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Best Truck Driver Safety Tips

A lot of us have had a heart-in-throat safety scare on the road. If not that, then maybe you have been involved in a minor collision. Either way, as a truck driver, safety is critical as it minimizes the inherent risks of driving, even safely. 

However, it isn’t always clear how certain driving choices or safety features will make a difference in your overall safety. But by maintaining compliance with federal regulations that protect you on the road, you can increase your chances of staying safe. 

Establishing safe habits on the road is one of the most proven ways to keep you safe when driving. These truck driver safety tips will ensure that you and other drivers on the road reach your destinations without harm.

What Is Trucking Safety?

Trucking safety refers to the measures that a truck driver takes to minimize risks while driving a semi-truck or other vehicle. Federal agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set certain quality standards that truck drivers must meet and maintain in order to be legally allowed to drive semi-trucks. 

Plus, the OSHA regulations of workplaces include recordkeeping, training, and having valid certifications, like maintaining a current CDL. These government agencies track the overall safety of companies within the industry based on accident records. 

These agencies also provide resources and recommendations to truckers and companies alike. This information is always based on studies conducted on the trucking industry, and these tips are designed to help you improve your safety.

Why Is Safety Important in Trucking?

When driving a semi-truck is your job, you naturally will spend most of your time on the road. More time on the road means an increase in your odds of experiencing breakdowns, getting into accidents, or experiencing other unlucky events.  

Likewise, the more hours you log, the more time you’ll spend around other drivers. These other drivers are just as likely to become momentarily distracted or otherwise create high-risk situations. 

In any moving vehicle, the potential for an accident to result in life-threatening injuries for any parties inside the car is very high, too. Insurance considerations aside, it’s worth taking as many precautions as you can to keep your risk of accident as low as possible. 

While you can’t eliminate risks altogether, developing safe habits and maintaining key safety standards for your equipment is the best way to protect yourself and others. Let’s take a look at the 10 best safety tips for truck drivers on the road! 

10 Best Safety Tips for Truck Drivers

These truck driver safety tips will help reduce your distraction when on the road and allow you to prepare for potentially dangerous or high-risk situations! 

Plan Your Route Ahead of Time

Planning your route in advance will give you the opportunity to think through how you will handle higher-risk maneuvers. For example, if you know you will need to cross-train tracks at a certain point, you can reduce your speed well in advance, so you’ll be better prepared to stop in time. 

Similarly, if you know where rest stops are located or that the number of lanes on the road will drop in a certain place, you can plan accordingly. Detailed route planning is one of the best ways to reduce your risks on the road. 

Keep an Eye on Weather Conditions

When planning your route, consider the timing. If the forecast is predicting a storm or some other hazardous weather condition during your trip, you can plan accordingly. 

Perhaps you will choose to stop to avoid the weather or check that your tires are prepared to handle the conditions. Knowledge is power and, for truckers, knowledge improves safety, too! 

Stay on Top of Vehicle Maintenance 

When your engine is running smoothly, it’s far less likely to experience catastrophic breakdowns or catch on fire. Something that can quickly escalate into larger problems is fluid leaks, particularly when they go unnoticed.

Sticking to a regular maintenance routine by scheduling basic oil changes and brake tests will also ensure that you can rely on your truck to respond how you need it to in an emergency situation. So, be sure to stay on top of vehicle maintenance! 

Use a Dash Cam for Increased Safety

A dash cam can drastically improve your field of vision. For instance, it’ll allow you to spot a small vehicle that has drifted into your blind spot. It is also an excellent deterrent for break-ins whenever your vehicle is parked. 

Dash cam recordings are also very valuable in collisions when issues of fault arise. No matter how valuable your cargo is, your life is still worth far more. Make sure you and your employer are taking reasonable measures to protect your cargo with a dash cam! 

Buckle Up for Safety

An oldie but a goodie is the reminder that seat belts save lives. While your seat belt can’t prevent you from getting into an accident, it can drastically improve your odds of survival if you do find yourself in an accident. 

Vehicles are designed with certain safety standards in mind, but these features won’t function effectively if drivers don’t take the necessary steps to implement them. Even the safest drivers cannot control the actions of other drivers on the road, so it’s vital to do everything you can to protect yourself. 

It’s worth making a truck driver safety tips checklist to check every time you start up your truck. As part of that, buckling your seat belt should be at the very top of your list.

Drive Defensively

Defensive driving refers to a style of driving that anticipates risks, like the potential maneuvers of other drivers, while also creating enough space to react as needed. The actions of other drivers are outside your control, but being prepared is important. 

However, defensive driving courses will improve your ability to drive safely, no matter how other drivers behave. So, focus on driving defensively and being proactive instead of reactive! 

Avoid Distractions While Driving

One of the biggest causes of collisions is distracted driving, particularly when someone is using mobile devices and texting on their phones while driving. You’ll often need to communicate while driving, but there are ways to do so that don’t distract you. 

Planning ahead by setting up your GPS and mounting your phone to your dash can dramatically reduce your risk of distraction on the road. If you have to talk to someone or respond to a message, stopping temporarily is more important than driving distracted.

Be Aware of Surroundings at All Times

Part of defensive driving is maintaining full awareness of what’s happening on the road. The sooner you are aware of other drivers, surprising weather conditions, construction, wildlife, or other potential surprises, the faster you can react. 

Earlier reactions will reduce the number of times where you find yourself at risk of a collision. But even though it’s easy to develop tunnel vision on long trips, finding a way to prompt yourself to check your surroundings is the smartest move you can make.

Don’t Change Lanes Too Frequently

As frustrating as it can be to get stuck behind slow drivers or vehicles that vary their speeds on the road, one of the riskiest moves semi trucks can make is changing lanes. Simply put, the less you change lanes, the lower your risk of getting into an accident.  

If you have a tendency to change lanes frequently, ask yourself why you do so. Does it impact your overall driving time dramatically enough to be worth the risk? The odds are good that the answer is no, so don’t change lanes too frequently. 

Get Proper Rest

You can’t effectively maintain any safety measures when you are drowsy. Your reaction time slows, your decision-making ability suffers, and you’ll even run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. 

Ensuring that you are properly rested and alert is one of the most important truck driver safety tips. Taking your safety and the safety of others seriously means being able to make accurate assessments of your current ability.

Driving impaired, even if it’s just the result of exhaustion, is a huge safety risk. Consider team-driving for any route or trip that will demand that you’re on the road for long hours. Keep the regulations on total driving hours in mind to maintain your safety as well!

Value Your Safety

Controlling a big truck at high speeds is a huge responsibility. The more time you commit to safety, the less likely you are to experience or contribute to injuries for anyone.

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FAQs

How can I improve my truck driving safety?

Defensive driving courses and driver safety training are excellent ways to improve your driving safety. 

How can truck drivers avoid accidents?

Following these safety tips will help you reduce your risk of experiencing an accident on the road.

Why do truck drivers get in accidents?

Accidents have many causes, but failure to drive defensively, distracted driving, and impaired driving are the three primary causes of truck driver collisions.

Melton Truck Lines

Employing over 1,250 of the best, professional drivers, we support all of our Melton family of drivers and support them on and off the road.

Melton Truck Lines

Employing over 1,250 of the best, professional drivers, we support all of our Melton family of drivers and support them on and off the road.