Truck driving is a common profession in the United States. Unfortunately, it can also be rather dangerous. Accidents happen, and even when they’re no fault of the truck driver, they can be hard to avoid with such massive machines.
The fact that trucking has been a large part of our nation for so long, however, has some advantages. There are several proven safety techniques to help protect the driver and everyone else on the road. Many of these procedures are at least partially regulated by the law too.
Safety Tips for Driving
Big trucks are constantly trekking across the highway. It’s only natural that some of the most important tips are directed at interstate driving. Pilots should:
- Never tailgate. If there’s not enough space between a tractor trailer and the vehicle in front of it, things can turn deadly in a sudden stopping situation. Most truck-related accidents involve the big rig rear-ending something else, so it’s key to have proper distance. After all, the heavier the load, the longer the stopping time.
- Signal early. It’s important that truck drivers give others ample warning whenever they’re about to make a change. This rings true on the interstate, but it’s something that’s important any time the truck is in motion.
- Be mindful of blind spots. There are several of them for a tractor trailer, so good drivers will monitor them frequently. It’s recommended that they check the side mirrors at least every 10 seconds and minimize lane changes.
- Leave plenty of space to brake for exits. Since it takes so much longer to slow down a vehicle of this size, drivers should be extra diligent when exiting (or entering) the interstate. It’s important that they start slowing down earlier so it can be more gradual.
Although there are many things to do to increase safety on the road, there are even more safety techniques that take place before the truck moves. Drivers should always check that all of their signals and other lights are functioning correctly. They should also keep tire chains, reflective triangles, and any other special needs equipment handy at all times.
The truck’s fluids should be monitored as well, and many companies require that their drivers to check them before each shift. This is especially true in extreme hot or cold conditions, since less-than-optimum levels of antifreeze can adversely affect the engine.
Perhaps the most important thing to prepare, however, is the driver’s mind. They should always be cautious and courteous to other drivers. Safety should always take priority over speed (particularly when the conditions are poor), and planning ahead is vital. For example, a driver should always add extra space between him or herself and the next vehicle when the roads are wet or snowy or visibility is low.
Tractor trailers are involved in thousands of accidents per year, and 90% of those are at least partially due to driver error. Proper training and the implementation of safety techniques like these can go a long way toward keeping more people safe.