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Top 10 truck driver safety tips

Knowing the top ten truck driver safety tips will only help when you’re on the road or preparing to be. Being a truck driver is a hard but rewarding job. When you prepare yourself ahead of every trip, you’re helping to ensure you can keep yourself and everyone on the road around you safer. 

Unexpected emergencies and events are also less likely to overwhelm you when you’re prepared. Don’t leave for a trip without the proper information. 

Why Are Pre-Trip Inspections Important For Safety?

Completing a pre-trip inspection before you drive your truck is an ideal way to help ensure you’ll pass a potential DOT inspection along the way. More importantly, pre-trip inspections help maintain the safety of the driver, vehicle, other drivers, and pedestrians.

When you complete a thorough pre-trip inspection, you will be examining your truck and its systems and be able to make sure everything is in working order before you get on the road. The DOT inspection checklist is a wonderful resource to keep easily accessible to be sure you always know what to examine before heading out on any trip. 

Driver safety is critical and a pre-trip inspection is a simple and essential piece to help ensure the safety of yourself and those around you on the road. 

10 Ways to Stay Safe On the Road

Being on the road can be dangerous. Keep yourself as safe as possible with these ten key truck driver safety tips. 

1. Inspections

Many employers and the DOT may require pre and post trip inspections. This is because it helps to ensure you are always on the road with a safe and dependable vehicle. 

A pre-trip inspection can help catch problems before they’re an issue when you’re out on the road. When you perform a pre-trip inspection, you could become aware of any safety issues with your brake systems, fuel systems, steering mechanisms, tires, suspensions, lighting devices, or any other operational component of your vehicle. 

Becoming aware of these before you are on the road is the best way to help ensure your safety, as well as the safety of those you’ll be around on the road. Thorough inspections are a vital piece of driving safety and they are not something to skip over, no matter how urgent a trip may seem. 

2. Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is a great tool to help yourself avoid accidents, even when you may not be at fault. Distracted driving remains a main cause of driving fatalities and with the advancements of technology and cell phones, this isn’t a major surprise. 

When you remain on the lookout for other driver’s faults, you will be more prepared to make the necessary adjustments. Knowing what is going on around you at all times will help you remain in better control of your vehicle. 

Defensive driving is a great form of protection for yourself against other drivers, but also against changing weather and adverse road conditions. Being alert at the wheel will help keep you in the best position possible anytime you’re on the road. 

3. Blind Spots

Such large vehicles, such as tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles are known to have blind spots. With such a large area, it’s tough to be able to see it all. Thankfully, additional mirrors can help minimize your blind spots.

If you are unable to eliminate your blind spots completely, you can at least make yourself aware of each and every one. Knowing your blind spots and properly preparing yourself when changing lanes or merging will help you avoid accidents or other collisions when on the road. 

Don’t rely solely on your mirrors. Instead, utilize your windows and every line of sight you have. 

4. Preparation

The more thoroughly you plan your trip, the more likely you are to have a successful and uneventful one. From pre planning your route and checking the weather along the way to packing any potential necessities, even in case of an emergency will help you avoid issues and delays. 

A pre-planned route can help you stay ahead of any adverse weather, road conditions, or even traffic delays. Stocking your cab with extra clothes, blankets, water, snacks, first aid items, and more can help you avoid costly stops along the way as well. 

Emergencies may arise, but when you are prepared, they can be far less detrimental to your trip. If a winter storm or other event causes you to have to stop on the side of the road for hours, trucker safety is a critical item to have addressed beforehand. 

5. Alcohol and Substances

Impaired driving doesn’t have to mean you have been drinking or using illegal substances. Prescription medications can cause impaired driving just the same. Anything that impairs your judgment should not be taken when you need to be on the road. 

If you are off duty, when you will have to go back on duty must be considered when you are looking to drink, take medications, or use other substances that may impair your judgment. Not only is your safety and the safety of others on and off the road important when impaired driving is a factor, but being under the influence on duty or on the road could cause you to lose your job. 

If you are unsure how you will react to a certain medication, be sure you have plenty of off duty time to let yourself recover so you can safely drive a vehicle when needed. 

6. Seatbelts

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers and passengers who buckle up are 45% less likely to die and 50% less likely to be moderately injured to be moderately injured in a crash. 

Truck drivers may feel untouchable in their big rigs, but without proper restraint, you can easily be ejected. The size of the vehicle doesn’t matter, seatbelts save lives. Being a truck driver means you are on the road more than most and you should vow to keep yourself as safe as possible. 

You may not be the cause of an accident and being able to remain in proper control of your vehicle in case of an accident is critical. Don’t forget such a quick, simple, and necessary click that could save your life. 

7. Dash Cams

It’s no surprise that good driving habits help keep you safer on the road and dash cams can help encourage better driving habits. Dash cams are nothing new, and the advancements that have come about with them are impressive. 

There are dual facing dash cams that allow you to capture the road as well as in the cab. These are incredibly beneficial in case of an accident, especially when you’re not at fault.  When you see a dash cam as a tool, you can utilize it and help yourself. 

Certain dash cams also have night mode settings that can pick up motion in the event of break ins or vandalism when you are not on the road or in your truck. Dependable dash cams are recommended for the safety and security of your trips. 

8. Proper Rest

Nothing can make up for lack of sleep. Let’s read that again and make sure you understand that nothing can take the place of proper sleep. Being tired on the road puts yourself and everyone around you at great risk. 

Your brain simply cannot function at its best when it hasn’t had the proper rest. You should always be alert when you’re on the road. If you start to feel drowsy, pulling over and getting rest is the smartest move to make. 

It is never worth pushing through and driving when tired. While you may be adhering to the driving window limits, it is possible to get tired within these windows and knowing your own limits is essential. Truck stops and pullovers are there for a reason, never push yourself when you are tired on the road. 

9. Emergency Preparedness

Being prepared for being on the road is important, but so is being prepared when you are off the road unexpectedly. Emergencies happen and while it may be less than ideal for your trip, being proactive about it can help. 

Whether traffic, adverse weather, or another unexpected emergency has brought you to a stop, there are several items that will help ease your unexpected downtime. Emergency kits for truck drivers are highly recommended, no matter where you live. 

A basic checklist of items to have on hand in case of an emergency are: 

  • Water 
  • Nonperishable food 
  • First aid kit 
  • Extra clothes
  • Blankets
  • Hand and foot warmers  
  • Medications if necessary
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio 

10. Accountability

Dash cams and technology can not only help you in case of an accident, especially when you aren’t at fault, but they can be incredibly helpful for accountability as well. Real-time tracking is easily and readily available with the right GPS system. 

Being tracked while on the road doesn’t have to mean you aren’t trusted. Telematic technology has been wonderful for the efficiency of truckers and their trips. Real-time GPS systems can let truckers know where they are at all times. 

If weather becomes an issue, it may be easier for an employer to reroute their driver ahead of the adverse conditions. If a customer wants to know where their product is, the driver doesn’t necessarily have to be contacted while on the road. 

These systems will also relay any accidents or issues to the fleet manager immediately so if help is needed, you won’t have to wait nearly as long. Accountability in trucking can help with both safety and efficiency. 

Pre Trip vs Post Trip Inspection

Both pre-trip and post-trip inspections involve examining the same items on your vehicle. Both remain incredibly important and beneficial for the safety of your trip.  The goal of the pre-trip inspection is to ensure you do not get on the road with a vehicle that is unsafe or has an issue needing to be resolved. 

The goal of the post-trip inspection is to ensure any potential issues with your vehicle are found and can be resolved before you need to get back on the road. Driving can be hard on your vehicle and while you may have had zero issues arise during your pre-trip inspection, things can easily change when you go to complete your post-trip inspection. 

While the main difference between these two inspections is when you complete it, both are imperative to ensure your vehicle is always in safe operating condition. Trucker safety involves the proper working order of your vehicle and these inspections are simple, but effective in helping maintain that. 

Set Yourself Up For Success Every Time You’re On the Road

Being a truck driver is a great career for many, but being on the road more than most can put you at greater risk as well. When you’re on the road, the best truck driver safety tips are here to help you keep things as safe as possible. 

Whether it’s knowing what to look for when on the road or being prepared for any event, you can set yourself up for success before you get behind the wheel. Make every trip less stressful with the right knowledge and equipment, and yourself and those around you will thank you. 

FAQ

How Long Can a Trucker Drive in a Day?

Commercial truck drivers must adhere to the 14-hour “driving window” limit. Truckers can drive for 14 consecutive hours if they have been off duty for 10 consecutive hours.

What Should I Check Before Driving a Truck?

Completing a comprehensive pre-trip inspection before driving your truck is required by the DOT as well as many employers. It is also a crucial step to ensure your safety while driving.

What Is the Stopping Distance of a Truck?

A loaded tractor trailer going 55 mph on ideal road conditions will have an average stopping distance of 196 feet. At 65 mph, it goes up to around 600 feet for stopping distance.

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