It’s no secret that being a truck driver can be a dangerous occupation. There are risks anytime someone heads out on the road for even short trips around town, but truck drivers are out there 8 to 10 hours a day in all sorts of weather and traffic conditions. Add to that having to be on the road with drivers of every possible driving skill and you begin to understand why being a trucker can be so dangerous. To stay safe out there, even the most seasoned drivers can use a refresher on safety now and then.
Here are some safety tips truck drivers need to keep in mind every time they’re out there:
Signal Your Next Move
Everyone knows it’s important to use turn signals, but big rig drivers really have to be aware of their surroundings and how much space is required to complete a safe turn. It’s important to signal early when getting ready to make a turn. Trucks make wide turns and often take up more than one lane when they turn at intersections. If other motorists aren’t aware of that, they may drive directly into a turning truck’s path. Putting on the turn signal early may give drivers a little extra warning and keep them from making a serious mistake.
The same is true when a truck is coming to a stop. It takes a truck much longer to stop than an automobile. Beginning to slow down early can give other drivers a visual clue you’re planning to stop. It’s just one more way to get information to drivers to allow them to adjust to what you’re doing.
Driving in bad weather is a challenge for any motorist. When you’re rolling down the road trying to keep control of 80,000 pounds, you need to have everything possible going for you and working correctly. Following a few basic tips can be the difference between getting to the next stop safely or winding up in the ditch. The most important thing you can do is slow down! When the weather turns bad, driving too fast can turn a small problem into a huge dilemma fast. The second biggest mistake drivers make is tailing too close. When the roads are slick, everything takes longer and farther to come to a complete stop. Slick spots can occur anywhere, but remember to be extra careful on bridges since they freeze first. If you’re driving in the winter, especially in the mountains, be sure you have a set of chains. That extra bit of traction can make a big difference.
Being Safe for the Long Haul
Long hours behind the wheel can take a toll on drivers, but there are ways to minimize the effects of driving mile after mile across the country. The number one thing truckers can do is take sufficient breaks. Even if it’s just pulling off into a roadside rest area and getting out of the truck to walk around and get some fresh air provides health benefits to the driver. Most obvious is that it helps fight fatigue. Moving around and stretching or taking a brisk walk around the truck a few times can reduce fatigue, get the blood flowing to your extremities, and clear your head. Sitting for hours on end behind the wheel can result in some of the same health risks as sitting for hours on a long plane flight. It’s not a bad idea to wear loose fitting comfortable clothing either. Anything you can do to keep from cutting off circulation is a step in the right direction.
Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re tired. Studies have shown that driving when exhausted is more dangerous than driving drunk. No responsible driver would consider driving a car while intoxicated, let alone an 18 wheeler. Yet continuing to drive tired is probably more common than people would like to think. Even though there are regulations that regulate how many hours a trucker can drive, there’s no way to be sure drivers are able to get quality rest during off hours. Taking a short stop for a power nap is a far better solution to warding off the mind-numbing effects of fatigue than continuously fighting to stay awake and possibly causing a serious and preventable accident.
Finally, one of the best ways to stay safe when you’re out on the road is to take care of yourself. When you eat well, get rest and exercise regularly, even if it’s nothing more than taking a brisk 15 or 20 minute walk every day, you’re taking an important step toward being at the top of your game every time you hit the road.
The country depends on the trucking industry to transport everything from automobiles to the foods we eat every day. Keeping our highways safe is everyone’s first priority, so stay safe out there.