In America, over 3.5 million citizens drive trucks for a living. However, some drivers prioritize trucking safety more than others.
If you’re a trucker, it’s important to follow driving safety tips to protect yourself and others on the road. Defensive driving not only helps you stay safe, but it also helps avoid costly damages.
The following guide will explain everything you need to know about driving your truck as safely as possible.
Don’t Tailgate Other Drivers
It’s crucial that truckers don’t drive too closely to the vehicle in front of them on the road. The general rule of thumb is that truckers should add the length of their truck to the distance between them and the other driver for every 10 mph.
For example, a trucker driving 50 mph should stay five truck lengths back from the vehicle ahead of them. That might seem like a lot of excessive room, but truckers need it. Big trucks can still move quite a long way even after the driver hits the brakes.
A truck driving 60 mph needs about the length of a football field to come to a complete stop. Remember to keep your distance from other cars to avoid rear-end collisions and having to search for “truck accident lawyer near me” online.
Remember Your Blind Spots
Blind spots are a common cause of trucking accidents and most of them occur while changing lanes. That’s why truck blindspots get called “no zones” because other drivers should avoid them at all costs.
Truck drivers have four no zones they must consider while driving. The zones are right in front of the cab, on both sides of the truck, and straight behind the trailer for about 3 yards.
Remember that a lot of other drivers on the road probably don’t know about the dangers of these zones. To reduce risks, start by adding extra mirrors to both sides of the hood and on the passenger side of the truck.
Always make sure that your mirrors get situated in their correct positions before hitting the road. You might also consider installing backup sensors, cameras with wide angles, and fish-eye mirrors to improve what you can see around you.
Check the Weather
Even the most experienced drivers can struggle hauling tons of weight through conditions like rain, snow, and high winds. To avoid disaster, always check the weather report each day and try not to drive in dangerous conditions if at all possible.
Sometimes you’ll have to keep trucking rather than stopping and waiting out bad weather. Regardless, you’ll know what to expect beforehand if you check reports and stay much safer than if you get caught off guard.
Inspections Before and After Driving
The DOT requires inspections, but sometimes you have to conduct additional inspections throughout your journey. always snap pictures of any inspection concerns you come across. If you’re part of a fleet, always forward issues to management.
Completing inspections before and after your trips is critical no matter how new the truck is. You never know what hazards you might encounter on the road and your truck must stay in excellent shape to avoid accidents.
If you find issues during an inspection, your company schedule repairs right away to provide safety for their truckers and other motorists. For example, blown tires cause many trucking accidents and they’re avoidable with the right maintenance.
Speaking of blown tires, check that your commercial insurance provider covers these kinds of problems before you drive.
Rest and Take Care of Yourself
You might find that one of your biggest trucking challenges is simply resting and taking care of yourself. For example, maintaining a healthy diet while driving usually takes some detailed planning.
Luckily, modern health-conscious shoppers make this task a little easier than it used to be. More gas stations have started selling items like salads, fruit, granola bars, and veggie snacks.
When you get tired while driving, it’s easy to slip up and buy a sugary drink or sweet treat to perk yourself up. But it’s much healthier and safer to park and take a quick nap. If you let yourself drive while groggy, you put yourself and others at risk.
Sure, you always want to get your cargo delivered on time if possible. But remember that placing safety first makes you a better trucker and resting plays a big role in that.
Minimize Distracted Driving
Driving a truck is tough work and the miles can add up quickly on long trips. So, it’s not uncommon for truckers to let their minds wander during a drive.
Fortunately, there are some easy tips to help truckers reduce distractions and stay focused on the road. For starters, always adjust your GPS maps before you set out on your trip.
Most truckers use GPS made specifically for driving a truck which is very valuable. They deliver important information to truck drivers like traffic reports and when to take an exit from the highway.
If you find that your cellphone distracts you from driving, turn it to the “do not disturb” mode. Phones are a huge distraction for drivers of all vehicle types and some states even have laws against using them while driving.
Some states give truckers that violate federal phone usage laws a general citation. Other states revoke a trucker’s commercial license for breaking the laws. On top of that, it can result in costly fines that add up with each offense.
You also shouldn’t use a portable data terminal while behind the wheel of a truck. It’s an incredibly important dispatching device, but it’s not meant for use while driving. It only takes a few seconds for a truck accident to happen if your eyes aren’t on the road.
Wait until you’ve stopped to eat food and drink beverages to further limit distractions. Doing so takes away one of your hands from the steering wheel to focus on something else, which is too risky for a truck driver to do.
Follow the Speed Limit
Keep in mind that some states have a lot of alternating speed limits present challenges for truckers. A lot of states also have laws that lower the maximum speed for truck drivers.
You might not agree with the speed limit or you might be running late, but it’s necessary to adhere to the limits. For example, if you take curves while driving too fast it might cause the truck to jackknife.
If you run into poor road conditions or severe weather, always slow down regardless of the speed limit. If you don’t, you might lose control of the truck and have a bigger problem than running late.
Driving a big truck into a city can cause a lot of stress for truckers. Expect other drivers to drive too closely behind you and cut you off in these situations.
You’ll probably have to deal with other drivers changing lanes without paying attention and causing near misses. You might experience brake checks from the car in front of you, rude gestures, honking, and bright headlights in your mirrors.
Despite all of those examples, you must remain calm for your own safety and the safety of others. Slow down and keep as much distance as possible between you and any drivers that cause problems.
If you let your emotions get the best of you, it might cause an accident or something much worse.
Study Interstate Numbers
Remember that interstate highways with three digits are dedicated to city areas and serve as bypasses. Interstate highways use single and double-digit numbers and usually go straight through the heart of busy cities.
Keep in mind that some cities prohibit truckers from driving on the interstate through the city. Instead, truckers have to use the three digit bypasses to proceed.
Although, it’s typically faster to use the bypass route instead of driving through the center of a city anyway because of traffic. Regardless, always carefully read road signs, listen to traffic updates, and check your map for the best route.
It’s hard to find ample parking for big rigs in most crowded cities. So, always give yourself extra time to find a safe parking spot at places like truck stops and rest areas.
Avoid parking your truck on the side of the road or in unattended lots for your own safety. Truck stops in busy cities fill up quickly and if you end your day too late, you might not find a spot to park.
Truck Driving Safety Practices
Remember these truck driving safety tips to get to your destination safely and without avoidable problems. Plan ahead, limit your distractions, follow the law, stay calm, take care of yourself, and keep trucking!
Take a look around our blog for more ways to stay safe on the road and how to deal with accidents.