In the United States, more than 3.5 million truck drivers are on the road, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many people are responsible for delivering goods and services to businesses and consumers across the country. And while most truck drivers are reliable and safety-conscious, there are always a few who put everyone at risk by driving recklessly.
That’s why all truck drivers need to know how to stay safe on the road. Here are eight tips that can help you do just that.
1. Get Plenty of Rest Before Hitting the Road
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but getting enough sleep before driving a truck is essential. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving and can lead to severe accidents.
To avoid this, ensure you get at least 8 hours of sleep before driving and take breaks every few hours to rest. Then, if you feel yourself getting sleepy, pull over and take a nap. But, again, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Another way to ensure you get plenty of rest is to plan your trips. This way, you can map out rest stops and plan your driving time around when you’re likely to be the most awake.
2. Check Your Blind Spots
This is another crucial tip for all drivers, but it’s vital for truck drivers. Since trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles, they have bigger blind spots. This means it’s easier for other vehicles to get lost in your blind spot and out of your line of sight.
To avoid this, check your mirrors and look over your shoulder before changing lanes. And if you need to, use your truck’s side view mirrors to get a better view of what’s behind you.
3. Wear High-Visibility Clothing
If you’re driving a truck, it’s essential to wear clothing that ensures safety and comfort. High-visibility clothing is a must and can come in the form of reflective vests, tape, and even light-up clothing. By wearing these items, you’ll make yourself more visible to other drivers and less likely to be involved in an accident. Wearing this type of clothing is especially important if you work at night.
In addition to high-visibility clothing, you should also ensure your truck is well-lit, which includes headlights, tail lights, and marker lights that are all in working order. And if you’re driving in low-light conditions, like at night or in fog, make sure to use your truck’s fog lights.
4. Be Careful When Passing
Passing other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things truck drivers can do. Not only is it illegal in some states, but it can also be hazardous.
If you must pass another vehicle, ensure you do so quickly and safely. And always use your turn signal to let the other driver know what you’re doing.
Another thing to remember is that trucks take longer to speed up and slow down than passenger vehicles, which means you need to leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle you’re passing.
5. Obey the Speed Limit
This tip might seem like another no-brainer, but obeying the speed limit is crucial for truck drivers. Speeding not only puts you at risk of getting a ticket but also increases the likelihood of an accident.
Trucks are much more difficult to stop than passenger vehicles, so giving yourself plenty of time to slow down is essential. And when you’re driving on the highway, remember to keep your speed at a safe level.
If you’re driving in bad weather, it’s even more important to obey the speed limit. Slick roads make it harder to stop, so you need to give yourself plenty of time to slow down. Snow, rain, sleet, and hail are some weather conditions that can be especially dangerous for truck drivers.
6. Leave Plenty of Space Between You and Other Vehicles
This is another essential tip for all drivers, but it’s crucial for truck drivers. Since trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles, they need more space to stop.
That’s why you should always leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. And if you’re driving behind a passenger vehicle, try to leave even more space. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to stop if the other driver suddenly brakes.
In general, you should leave at least 4 seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. But you should leave even more space in bad weather or heavy traffic. Also, give yourself extra space when passing by another vehicle.
7. Use Your Truck’s Braking System Correctly
Trucks have a different braking system than passenger vehicles, so it’s essential to use them correctly. For example, most trucks have air brakes that must be pumped before they work correctly.
If you’re unfamiliar with your truck’s braking system, read the owner’s manual and get some professional training. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask a qualified mechanic.
In general, you should use both your truck’s and your trailer’s brakes when stopping, which will help prevent your trailer from jackknifing.
8. Inspect Your Truck Before Driving
Inspecting your truck before driving is essential to ensure everything is in working order, including brakes, tires, lights, and mirrors.
You should also inspect your trailer to ensure it’s properly connected to your truck. And if you’re carrying any cargo, be sure to secure it properly.
Common sense is essential here. If something looks or feels wrong, it probably is. So don’t hesitate to get your truck checked out by a qualified mechanic if you have any concerns. One thing worth mentioning is that truck drivers are required by law to keep a logbook. This is a record of their service hours, and it’s used to ensure drivers are getting the proper rest.
Improving truck driver safety is essential for several reasons. Not only will it help to reduce the number of accidents, but it will also make the roads safer for everyone.
By following the tips above, you can help to improve truck driver safety. And if we all do our part, we can make the roads safer for everyone.