No matter whether you have years of experience on the road, or you are just starting your career, there is always something new to learn and old things to remind oneself about. As truckers, our job is to go from start to finish safely and without any delays.
To do this, we must follow certain safety rules, some regulated, other rules of thumb, that will help us get from point A to point B safely.
Below are 14 tips on truck driver safety every trucker should follow (and an Infographic about truck driver safety tips)
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Tip 1: Always Wear Your Seatbelt
Statistics show that 1/6 of truck drivers do not wear their seatbelt. Another statistic shows that a majority of fatal driving accidents involved drivers who did not wear their seatbelt. Lastly, not wearing your seatbelt is illegal, so there is always the risk of getting fined.
Tip 2: Do Not Use Your Phone
The National Safety Council reported that as much as 1.6 million crashes per year are caused as a direct consequence of using a phone while driving. 1 out of 4 car accidents happens because of texting and driving. If you must use the phone, make sure you are using a hands-free headset.
Tip 3: Always Follow the Speed Limit
Speed limits exist for a reason, especially when one is driving a 50,000 lbs machine. No matter what your gut and experience may suggest, if you follow the speed limit, the chance of an accident occurring is almost zero.
Tip 4: Always Plan Your Trip
While things do not always go to plan, having the trip planned to include stops, driving hours, routes, weather forecasts, and road conditions will definitely help you have a smoother trip.
Tip 5: Make Sure You Have Enough Space on Each Side of the Truck
You have to make sure that there is enough space for other vehicles on all sides of the truck. This way, you are doing everything in your power to avoid an accident from a vehicle being too close.
Tip 6: Always Get the Latest Weather Info
As you may know, weather forecasts tend to be a gamble, especially if you are driving over-the-road. Therefore, make sure you update your weather forecast information with the latest one to be able to anticipate any drastic weather changes.
Tip 7: Mind Your Speed at Turns
Trucks require way more distance to slow down as compared to smaller vehicles, and they require your awareness for other vehicles as well. Slowing down on turns and off-ramps requires practice and patience, and you need to anticipate at which speed you can take the turn.
Tip 8: Check Your Mirrors Often
The truck has many blind spots, so you need to pay attention to the mirrors quite often for vehicles entering said blind spots. A general rule is to check your mirrors every 8-10 seconds.
Tip 9: When You Change Lanes, Use the 10 Sec Rule
The nature of the truck prevents you from frequent lane changes, but when you must do it use the 10 seconds rule. The first 3 seconds are for signaling you are going to change the lane, and 7 seconds to change the lane.
Tip 10: Follow Driver Hour Regulations
These regulations exist to make sure you are in optimal condition to drive your truck. You need to use the off-road time to get rest, exercise, and eat healthily.
Tip 11: Check Your Brakes Frequently
Brakes often go bad, and you do not want to be that truck driver that has no brakes in the middle of nowhere. There are no convenient truck ramps out there. Luckily, with proper inspection, you can see whether the brakes are about to give and act accordingly.
Tip 12: Be Ready for Night Driving
Night driving should be avoided if possible, but when it is not, make sure you are prepared for it. Get contact lenses or night vision glasses, plug in that audiobook or turn on the radio to keep you alert, and pay attention to the speed limit, which in some states changes during night time.
Tip 13: Practice Safe Loading and Unloading
The job often includes loading and unloading cargo. When this is the case, make sure the truck is properly stopped, pop your handbrakes, and turn off the engine. Make sure the cargo is evenly spread out throughout the trailer to avoid drag and tipping the truck.
Tip 14: Be Extra Careful During Windy Weather
Since the truck has a large surface, especially on the trailer, it is very easy for win to tip it over. Therefore, while driving during windy conditions, be extra careful and try to correct the truck if the wind starts tipping it.
Although there many more written and unwritten safety rules, the above are enough to get you in the right direction. The sad reality is that 1 out of 20 truckers are involved in a trucking accident each year. Driver error accounts for 88% of these accidents. These numbers are the harsh reality.
Avoid becoming part of these statistics by being aware, present, careful, and by following our safety tips, and any other you might learn during your time on the road. Someday, they may save your and the lives of others.