Thousands of truck accidents happen every year, but many of them are preventable.
While maintaining control of a large and heavy truck is challenging (you need more time to speed up and slow down as well as more space to account for the multiple blind spots), there are still plenty of practical ways to exercise defensive driving as well as safe practices on the road.
Whether you’ve been in the industry for decades or you’ve been thinking about getting your certification, the following tips can help make the road safer for yourself and those around you.
Common Causes of Accidents
To best practice safe driving, you should have an idea of the contributing factors to accidents, some common reasons include:
- Bad Weather
- Driver Fatigue
- Improperly Secured Loads
- Poor Truck Maintenance
While these are just a few examples, you can see that many of them are avoidable. Read on for useful ways to prevent accidents while driving your truck.
- When driving in poor weather conditions, be sure that you reduce speed, maintain a safe distance between other vehicles, you have the proper safety and maintenance equipment on board, and you pull over when necessary. There are various weather conditions you may come across, but these tips are useful in all types of weather.
- Alleviate potential fatigue by improving sleeping conditions, eating a proper meal and healthy snacks, avoiding alcohol (a depressant which disturbs sleep) and exercising regularly. Practicing healthy habits as a part of your regular routine will contribute to your overall health as well as help boost your energy. Additionally, we recommend taking breaks every 2-3 hours or pulling over and taking a power nap when you feel drowsy.
- Put your phone away. Nowadays more and more accidents are caused because drivers of all vehicle types are looking at their phone screens and not the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a study that revealed that a truck texting while traveling at 55 mph (88 kph) would be the equivalent of driving the full length of a football field without the driver once looking at the road. Leave your phone for breaks or use Bluetooth devices for calls.
- Inclement weather isn’t the only reason to drop your speed. Be cautious when going around corners and areas with poor road conditions like bumps, cracks, or potholes. In addition to poor road conditions, it’s good practice to slow down when you notice cars pulled over on the side of the road.
- Secure your cargo before heading out, and check that your freight is set every time you stop. When driving in high winds or routes with multiple turns, your freight is more likely to come loose or detached. Make sure your doors and all exposed items are nice and tight before continuing on any journey.
- Trip planning should be a part of your daily routine and can help reduce stress, confusion and the need for GPS when making deliveries. Remember that you will encounter traffic and, at times, confusing delivery destinations, which is why a plan will help prevent late deliveries and ensure better overall safety.
- Use your signals with anticipation. It’s imperative that you use your signals and allow for ample time before making any lane changes. Double check mirrors and blind spots before making any moves.
- Performing thorough inspections of your truck, equipment, and freight can help you prevent accidents. Pay special attention to your brakes and tires and make sure you have all proper maintenance equipment. Be sure to perform your inspections before AND after long hauls.
Each of these tips are simple additions to any trucker’s routine that can keep you safe. It should go without saying, but these tips should complement standing regulations and laws, which should be followed at all times. Most accidents are preventable so keep the road safe for yourself and others by practicing safe driving habits.
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