Important Safety Tips and Practices for Truckers
Trucking is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. There were over 300,000 accidents involving large trucks in 2012 alone. This resulted in over 100,000 injuries. These figures cut across all demographics of trucking from the long haul intermodal carriers to the local farm supply carriers. When the difficulties of the job are taken into consideration it is no mystery why this job is so dangerous. On a daily basis truckers must deal with other motorists, road construction, bad weather, and they are often carrying heavy cargo. These dangers cannot be eliminated but they can be lessened by following some of the tips and practices outlined below.
7 Safety Tips
Signaling Early – Giving other motorists plenty of warning of your intended direction is an important practice. This can give the other motorists a chance to adjust if they are in your blind spot or they may be able to change lanes all together. Reducing the likelihood of a last minute decision is always helpful when avoiding accidents.
Brake Early – Many motorists do not realize how long it can take for a large truck to come to a complete stop. Breaking early allows those other motorists a chance to adjust to the situation with ample time to make the right decision.
Avoid Unnecessary Lane Changes – Changing lanes frequently can increase your chances of being involved in a traffic accident. This holds true for any motorist. This is especially important for the drivers of large trucks. Larger vehicles naturally have larger blind spots. Checking these areas thoroughly and signaling early can help you avoid an accident when changing lanes. However, minimizing the amount of times you change lanes brings the likelihood of an accident down even more.
Slow Down in Construction Zones – Construction zones present confusing situations for all motorists. This becomes an even bigger problem when you are driving a large truck and pulling a large load. Close to 1/3 of all work zone crashes involve large trucks. Driving 5 miles under the speed limit may add a little time to your trip but it is much better than having and accident.
Maintain Your Rig – It is very important to check out your truck every morning and report any potential problems back to dispatch. Breaks and tires in particular should be checked before each and every trip. Driving a poorly maintained rig can be costly if you are ticketed at a weigh station or by the DOT. More importantly it is very dangerous for you and the other motorists on the road when your rig is poorly maintained. Take a few minutes to check these things before each trip.
Maintain Your Cargo – The higher you stack cargo, the more drag on the truck. This can be bad for your fuel economy and the overall safety of the load. Take the time to spread your load over the full space of the truck. This will help you to stay nimble and allow you to maneuver better if an emergency arises. If you are pulling cargo on a flatbed or any other open trailer make sure that everything is properly secured before leaving with the load. Losing any part of your cargo at 70 miles an hour is extremely dangerous for you and other motorists on the road.
Pull Over If Fatigued – The consequences of falling asleep at the wheel, far outweigh those associated with arriving late. By law a driver cannot exceed 11 continuous hours of driving. You could lose your license or your job by violating this law. Find a safe place and exit the highway if you find yourself tired or you have been on the road too long.
Take Care of Yourself – A big part of truck driver safety has less to do with your vehicle, and more to do with you. Getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, and taking quality home time will all help you feel more content and refreshed behind the wheel — 2 qualities prized in any driver.