Over recent years, the number of CDL truck drivers who have tragically passed away on the job has been going up, not down. Hopefully, we’ll see those numbers decline soon, and you can help by making sure that you and your fellow truck drivers are aware of and actively practicing the best safety methods. Here are just a few vital truck driving safety tips you can follow to significantly decrease your odds of becoming another tragic example of truckers dying on the job.
1. Be alert
Inattentiveness is one of the leading causes of driving accidents — both with truck drivers and your average motorist. With vehicles typically traveling at least 70 miles an hour on interstates, all it takes is a second for a catastrophe to strike. Be sure that you’re paying attention to the road and your environment.
You need to be able to notice hazards and react to them at a moment’s notice. Avoid checking your phone until you are safely parked at a suitable location. Don’t get distracted by the billboards you pass. You should even try not to look away from the road when changing radio stations.
2. Check weather reports
Before starting your drive, check the weather ahead of time and prepare accordingly. While bad weather is often only an inconvenience for your average person, it can cause anything from delays to accidents so severe they result in death. It’s also harder for semis and other similar trucks to find somewhere to pull over and wait it out if they get caught in dangerous driving conditions.
Bad weather can also reduce visibility, making it even more challenging to spot cars around you, and vice versa. These conditions may cause them to unknowingly try to pull out in front of you or merge into your lane without enough space. And because of the reduced visibility, there’s a chance that you may not notice them in time to prevent an accident.
3. Avoid traffic
For any driver, heavy traffic provides more opportunities for accidents. However, this risk dramatically increases when you’re a CDL truck driver due to the vehicles you typically drive. Your truck takes up a lot more space, but that won’t prevent some people from cutting you off or moving dangerously close to you. Larger vehicles also pick up more momentum, so it’s much harder to get them to brake effectively on a crowded roadway.
On a similar note, many car drivers don’t know (or ignore) the fact that semi-trucks, especially when they’re hauling a heavy load, can’t make sharp turns and need plenty of space.
4. Check out delivery spots on foot
There are many safety tips that regulators advise truckers to follow, and sometimes it’s easy to neglect one or two. Scouting delivery locations is one of the most overlooked pieces of safety advice that truckers get. Before attempting to drive up and deliver your cargo, get out on foot for a few minutes and investigate the area. Make sure the parking area is free of debris like nails or glass, and that there’s a path wide enough for your truck to get in and out.
As you know, large trucks need a lot of space to turn around. While the shippers or recipients may claim that they know for sure the parking or loading area is fine, you should still make sure there’s enough space for your truck to turn around and drive out.
5. Be careful at night
Driving at night is a risky business for all drivers. It’s dark, you’re tired, and other drivers around you will be driving a bit more recklessly because they’re tired, too. While your headlights may be good, you still have less visibility than you would during the day. If someone pulls out in front of you or a nearby car is driving like it’s their first time being in a car, you now only have as far as your headlights shine to notice and react to hazards.
6. Leave room in your rig
A cluttered cab can cause problems in a variety of ways. If items are falling onto the floor every time you slow down, that can cause a fatal distraction. If you spill something like hot coffee on your lap, it could make you swerve, causing an accident. If you have too many objects that can roll around as you change speed or direction, something may roll under one of your pedals – keeping you from hitting the brakes when you need to and causing a wreck. If you choose to travel with a let for companionship, make sure they’re adequately restrained in a safe carrier and prevented from getting under your feet.
7. Don’t change lanes when you don’t have to
Visibility is another significant hazard for truck drivers. Your mirrors are valuable tools, but they don’t guarantee 100% visibility (especially toward the back of your trailer). This makes it difficult to check whether or not someone is behind you or gauge if there’s enough space between you and them. Even if you do everything right, the people in the lane you’re trying to merge into may change speed unexpectedly or otherwise make it unsafe.
8. Use a trucker’s GPS
While almost any GPS will be able to tell you how to get from point A to point B, a trucker’s GPS offers other valuable information specific to truckers. While any GPS tells you where roads are, a trucker’s GPS specifies only routes that trucks can safely use. A trucker’s GPS will also alert you to the locations of nearby truck and rest stops, where you can find repair services if needed, weigh stations, places to eat, and more. Not every roadside restaurant has enough parking for a semi, and some areas are downright dangerous to pull in or out of. That’s why it’s necessary to have semi-specific information on your GPS.
9. Slow down
Once again, it’s essential to make sure your truck will be able to stop in time when you need to. The two main determining factors of an object’s momentum are its size and its speed. Your truck will be one of the largest vehicles on the road, so momentum is a bigger issue for you than for others.
It becomes virtually impossible to brake at a reasonable distance if you are going at high speeds. Not only that, but if you’re going too fast and you have to turn or there’s a bend in the road, there’s a chance that your trailer could tip. That’s a bad day for everyone involved.
10. Take breaks and check your truck
Finally, make sure that both you and your truck are in good working order. Eat healthily, get proper amounts of sleep, maintain your hygiene as best you can, and check your truck to make sure it doesn’t need any repairs and it has enough fuel to get you where you’re going.
While trucker deaths have been rising over the past several years, making sure that you and your fellow truckers follow these simple tips will help prevent you from becoming one of these unfortunate fatalities. Hopefully, it won’t be long until these numbers go back down.
Ready for a Reliable Factoring Partner?
Provident is a factoring company that provides factoring services for carriers and brokers in the transportation industry.
We offer same-day/next-day funding and competitive rates BUT we pride ourselves in our customer service. You won’t find any hidden fees or locked-in contracts here!
Thoughts? Share them below!