Being a truck driver, your number one job is getting from point A to point B in time. Besides that, the most important thing is getting to your destination safely. Being a good and experienced truck driver is important but you also need to think about many things to provide accident prevention, like weather conditions, other drivers on the road, wildlife crossing highways, unexpected obstacles, the condition of your truck, etc.
Here are some essential accident prevention tips that you should remember because driving a truck is a big responsibility to yourself, to other passengers, other drivers on the road and your employer.
1. Truck drivers needs to get plenty of sleep
It is important to follow the rules about driving hours and get plenty of rest. To avoid preventable accidents it is important not to get behind the wheel while tired or if you’re feeling fatigued. Deadlines are often the reason we push ourselves beyond our capabilities, but when you are a truck driver, sleep is not something you should skip or put off. Take breaks, stay rested and alert and get to your customer safe.
2. Don’t drive under the influence
It is tempting for some truck drivers to use drugs or alcohol to help with the fatigue, but it is definitely not a good idea. Using drugs to stay awake will influence you to take risks that you usually might not take, like speeding or unsafe steering and sudden lane changing, and altogether making poor decisions when you should be staying focused and thinking about the job you need to do. Using drugs or drinking alcohol also slows your reflexes and lowers your focus, which makes you a danger on the road and more likely to cause an accident.
3. Drive at a legal speed
The legal speed limit is not just a suggestion that you can follow, it is the maximum speed that is allowed for that part of the road. Speeding is often a major contributing factor in many road accidents. You should also adjust your speed to the weather conditions as well as to the road and traffic conditions you are facing. In order to do your job and deliver your cargo to the customer, you need to stay safe and avoid getting into an accident.
4. Plan your trip
It is important to be thorough at any job, but especially being a truck drivers, it helps you save time and money and getting to your customer safely. If you are not familiar with your next route you should do your research before getting on the road. Check the roads you’re allowed to drive on, the exits you should take, check for details with your customer about the easiest way of getting to the delivery place. GPS is not always completely reliable so check and compare before you get on the road and prepare a road map as a backup. Preparing ahead of time is always a good idea to feel and stay safe on the road.
5. Always check your blind spots
People assume that truck drivers can see the road better because they are higher off the ground. Even though trucks do have bigger mirrors and a wider front view they still have serious blind spots that need to be checked when changing lanes or turning. The blind spots are directly in front of the motor, along with each side close to the truck and directly behind the haul. These blind spots are called No Zones-an area around the truck where other vehicles are no longer visible to the truck driver. Other drivers on the road should think about these blind spots too, but in the end, it is your responsibility and you should check your surroundings while driving to avoid getting into an accident that involves another vehicle.
6. Know your vehicle
Driving long hours, just you and your truck on the open road is the main part of your job so a very important thing to help you avoid accidents is knowing your truck. Hearing a weird sound or rattle, while driving, and knowing what is causing it, and if it is something that needs your attention, can be something that really makes a big difference in efforts to stay safe on the road. Like in day to day driving in any kind of vehicle, maintenance issues are a common cause of accidents. Checking your truck regularly and making sure your breaks, steering, tires and cargo restraints are all in good condition is as important as anything else in order to stay safe and avoid accidents.
7. Know what you are hauling
It is important that you know what you are delivering and it is crucial to know what to do in case of an emergency, especially if you are driving a truck full of hazardous material. If you have cargo that is harmful to the environment or to you and others on the road, you need to know how to react even if you get into a small accident. Some roads and routes require you to have a special permit for transporting hazardous materials or waste so you should check with your dispatcher, if you work for a carrier, or if you are an independent trucker, check with state agencies and plan your route. If you are hauling explosives there are some rules you need to follow when it comes to your route planning, parking and leaving your vehicle unattended. You should prepare ahead and think about your safety, the safety of everyone around you and the environment, your job is an important one and it carries a lot of responsibility.
8. Don’t rely on your spotter completely
You finally got to your destination, your delivery spot is in your sight but you shouldn’t stop focusing, there is still the last job to be done, driving your truck into the delivery place safely. One thing you can do, if you’re not familiar with the delivery place, is parking outside and walking in there and checking it out for yourself. Your spotter is someone you should rely on but to a point. He is only one man, most likely, watching one part of your truck, so you should still keep checking all the points too. Sometimes that will mean getting out of your truck and getting a better look, but it is always better to check something twice and be sure.
9. Stay focused
The last thing, and maybe the most important one, that kind of summarizes the previous tips is to always stay focused. You should always feel rested when starting a job, be aware of your surroundings and other drivers on the road with you, be in tune with your vehicle. Don’t get distracted while you are driving, don’t use your phone to text or call, don’t do any other tasks and just focus on the road. Prepare your GPS route, your music and any other thing you might need while driving, before getting on the road. This applies to anyone driving any kind of vehicle, but keep in mind, your truck is big and mighty and even small accidents can turn into big ones if they include others on the road.
Conclusion for truck drivers
It is not an easy job, being a truck driver, you have to drive long hours while sitting in one position, your back being sore, getting tired, getting bored and needing a distraction.
For good accident prevention it is so important to open your eyes and be focused and not get distracted, follow the rules of the road and rules of your job, get enough sleep and take breaks when you need them. Some accidents just happen, even for the most cautious drivers, but the most important thing is to try your best by following the tips for accident prevention, using common sense, and knowing how to react in emergency situations. Follow your instincts, use your knowledge and experience, and do your best to do the job well and on time, while staying safe, rested, and accident-free.