Truck driving is challenging job, not least of all because of its inconsistent schedule and timing. Most truck drivers end up working 24 hours shifts as a result and therefore they don’t get enough time to rest. Being tired is a contributing factor of a fair amount of accidents and injuries on the road. Secondly, factors such as inappropriate maintenance of vehicles, poor infrastructure, and a general disregard for the pedestrians and other drivers on the road have fuelled the incidence of road accidents. This is why it is important for any truck driver to understand and practice road safety rules especially for a country like ours, which is notorious for road accidents and related fatalities.
As a truck driver, there are some simple things that you can do every day to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of other drivers who share the road. To help make the roads safer, we have collated a few safe driving tips for truck drivers below.
Seat belts save lives. Worn properly, they prevent you from being thrown around the inside of a crashing truck or, worse, thrown through the windshield and flung completely out of the vehicle. Studies show that nearly one in six truck drivers don’t wear their safety belts. Seatbelts are not only required, but they are also the best way to prevent injuries. More than 40% of crash-related deaths occur every year from not wearing a seatbelt. [source: NHTSA].
Several states in the U.S. have passed laws prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving. This is down to the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly harmless activity: 2,600 deaths nationwide every year, by some estimates [source: Live Science]. If you think talking on a cell phone while driving isn’t a problem, consider this: One researcher compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver who is not on a cell phone. What’s more, working a cell phone behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent.
It isn’t just cell phones that cause distractions for truck drivers, however. Eating, fiddling with electronic devices, or interacting with other passengers also diverts a driver’s attention in potentially deadly ways.
Speed limits are there, especially ones specifically noted for trucks. Stay within the speed limit and you will stay safer on the road. Research has shown that for every mile per hour you drive, the likelihood of your being in an accident increases by four to five percent [source: ERSO]. At higher speeds, the risk increases much more quickly.
A speed increase of even 10 mph (16.1 kph) on your average drive across town will only save you a few minutes–while increasing your crash risk by up to 50 percent and using more fuel. Even on long trips, the time you’ll save is inconsequential compared to the risks associated with speeding. Take your time and obey posted speed limits. If you want to get there as fast as possible, there’s one fool-proof solution: Leave earlier.
Although it sounds obvious, drinking and driving is a very dangerous combination and should always be avoided. More than 30 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the United States involve drivers impaired by alcohol. These accidents led to 11,773 deaths in 2008 alone [source: NHTSA]. Drugs include anything that impairs your judgment or physical faculties, such as medications that may cause drowsiness. Besides having safety concerns, being under the influence can also cost you your job.
When loading or unloading freight, ensure that the truck and freight are properly secured. Apply truck and trailer parking brakes and turn off your truck. If available, use chock blocks for extra security. Do not pull out of a loading dock until the dock plate has been removed and you have verified that the loading/unloading has in fact been completed and that no equipment or people are still working in the truck.
There are all sorts of unexpected events that could occur on the road, but having a plan can make you more prepared. The better you have your trip planned out (driving hours, routes, weather scouting, etc.), the safer your journey will be.
Once you receive your order, you must prepare yourself for the trip. It is strongly recommended to take some rest before embarking on the trip. Take a comfortable and deep sleep in advance, and pull over if you are feeling tired while driving. Grab a light snack, stretch your legs or take a catnap. Munching on junk foods, drinking sugary drinks, and consuming heavy meals can make you drowsy, so look for healthy alternatives when you can.
Safe driving guidelines advise truck drivers to keep a safe distance between themselves and the car ahead. Truckers need enough time to react if that car makes a sudden turn or stops. It can be too difficult to estimate the recommended distances while driving and the exact distance would have to be adjusted for speed, so most experts recommend a “seven-second rule.”
The seven-second rule is simple. Find a stationary object on the side of the road. When the car ahead of you passes it, start counting seconds. At least seven seconds should pass before your car passes the same object. Once you have some driving experience and have practiced keeping this minimum distance, you’ll develop an instinct for it and know how close to follow without having to count. However, even experienced truck drivers should count off the seven-second rule now and then to make sure.
Certain parts of the country are known for having unpredictable weather, but try to keep track of changes and avoid dangerous driving conditions whenever possible.
When driving through fog, heavy rain, a snowstorm, or on icy roads, be extra careful. Take all of the other tips presented here and make full use of them: Drive below the speed limit if necessary, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead, and be especially careful around curves. If you’re driving through weather conditions you don’t know well, consider delegating driving duties to someone who does, if possible. If the weather worsens, just find a safe place to wait out the storm.
Defensive driving is a practice that helps drivers consciously reduce the dangers linked to driving. In this form of driving, you anticipate scenarios that could result in an accident, such as unfavorable weather conditions and reckless motorists on the road. When more people practice defensive driving, the roads will be safer.
Defensive driving incorporates the other tips shown here, such as maintaining a safe distance and not speeding, but remaining calm in the face of frustrating traffic issues is another major part of the concept. Accept small delays, such as staying in line behind a slower car instead of abruptly changing lanes. Yield to other cars, even if you technically have the right of way.
Defensive driving is not only safer, but it can also save you money. Many insurance companies offer discounts to truck drivers who complete defensive driving courses.
Next time you are out on the road, keep these safety tips in mind, as these are great safety tips for truck drivers to follow. These trailers are large pieces of equipment and full concentration is necessary from the driver at all times. It’s important also not only for truck drivers to be at their best but also for their trucks, as proper maintenance will greatly reduce the chance of breakdowns.
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