Driving a truck for a living is a hard job and it’s a dangerous job.
Driving professionally requires a great deal of skill, it carries a lot responsibility for the safety of others and it requires a lot of common sense.
Being safety conscious is vital. It is what will keep you alive when you’re faced with those tense moments which arise when behind the wheel!
OUR 10 BEST TRUCK DRIVING SAFETY TIPS
These truck driving safety tips are intended as general guidelines and reminders for truckers.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS use your best common sense judgement and refer to specific rules and instructions from your carrier.
- Be Alert. Know everything going on around you. Always look well ahead down the road and around your rig. When rolling down the highway, especially in heavy traffic, always plan an ‘escape route’. Be aware of who’s in front of you, beside you and behind you at all times. Be aware of everything, so you can act accordingly, if and when necessary. Being well rested keeps you at your best. The electronic logbook system potentially provides a system for drivers to be well rested, IF utilized properly by the carrier.
- Check Weather Reports. Be aware of weather conditions prior to departing on a trip, and check the reports as often as you’re able while traveling. Keep an eye on your outside temperature to watch for changing road conditions. Knowing what to expect helps a trucker be better prepared for bad weather driving and necessary precautions can be taken. (Part of good trip planning)
- Avoid Traffic. Whenever possible, avoid traveling at high volume traffic and peak traffic times. The more traffic, the greater the odds of an accident.
- Check Out Delivery Spots on Foot. Of all driving safety tips, this one is most often ignored by truckers. When delivering, especially to a new customer, find a place to park safely, leave your rig for 5 minutes and scope out the place. Shippers will too often say, ‘Oh, we have trucks in here all the time, it’s ok’. Check for yourself. A truck can easily get trapped and unable to turn around or the docking facility just isn’t suitable for big rigs. By getting out of your truck and looking around for yourself, you’ll see obstacles that may be in your way, such as low fire hydrants, posts, ditches, etc. Take a mental picture of the area. If you just drive in, you will NOT see the hazards.
Also remember that a large percentage of truck accidents happen when backing up. Accidents are costly for everyone and can seriously impair your driving record.
- Be Extra Cautious at Night. Always exercise ‘extra’ caution at night, especially in tight maneuvering situations. I’ve seen too many truckers leaving a truck stop at night thinking they’re headed for the road and drive straight into a ditch, slam into the back end of a trailer and hit light posts head on. Be alert, be aware, move slowly and cautiously especially at night.
- Leave Room in Front of Your Rig. Always, always leave plenty of room in front of your vehicle. It can be very frustrating if you are only traveling 50 mph, and everyone else is doing 65 mph, BUT it can keep you out of trouble. This ‘buffer zone’ or ‘cushion’ in front of your rig will protect you and your truck. Usually, if anything goes wrong, there’s a good chance it will be ahead of you. The more empty space you have in front of you and your unit, the more time you’ll have to ‘correct’ and slow down, if necessary.
- Keep Lane Changes to a Minimum. Pick a lane and STAY in it. Cars will dodge and change lanes no matter what. If you do find it necessary to change lanes, move over very carefully, being aware of your blind spots and constantly check your mirrors. The odds of an accident increases dramatically each time a vehicle makes a move to another lane. If you have maintained your lane position in the event of an accident, the other vehicle will most likely be at fault, not you.
When entering a city from the freeway, take the 2nd lane from the right, to avoid merging vehicles. Cars love to hug the right lane and dodge all over. They tend not to merge. Merging seems to be a ‘lost art’.
- Use a Trucker’s GPS. A GPS designed especially for truckers will show vital information such as which exit to take, distance before exit, when to change lanes, traffic reports etc. They are well worth the cost. These units can be a huge help and can alleviate a lot of stress for the driver, especially when traveling in unknown areas. They are another great tool, but do not rely on them 100%. Do compare your findings with several other sources, including a good old fashioned map.
- Slow Down. This is THE most important driving safety tips for truckers. I can’t stress this point enough. Big trucks don’t corner like a Ferrari, nor do they handle like one. Always take the corners and ramps very slowly. Speed signs on ramps are for cars, not big rigs. It doesn’t matter if you hold up traffic. The main focus is to get around a corner and be ‘upright’.
Travel slowly and maintain control. There’s never a need to get above 2nd gear in a parking lot. The only place to travel safely at top speeds? Perhaps in the middle of Wyoming on I-80 on the flats on a clear day. Always drive with care and control. Don’t drive as fast as you think you can get away with.
- Take Breaks and Check Your Truck. Stop and take regular breaks as need. Get in a good stretch. Do a walk around the truck and trailer. Check your load. Look for soft tires, air leaks, check under the truck for any dripping coolant or oil.
Professional drivers should not ever skip any safety steps when driving. If steps are skipped, you are compromising your safety and the safety of others traveling with you on the road.
Remember, no matter how hot your load is, it’s always better to arrive safely. Nothing is worth risking your life for, not even your driving job.