Welcome to Part II of our series, Essential Safe Driving Tips for Truckers. In today’s installment, we are going to dive deep back into important road safety tips that every professional truck driver should know.
Ask any CDL driving instructor, and they will tell you that the following items are essential smart truck driving tips that every commercial motor vehicle operator should know. While many of these can be referred to as “common sense” tips, there’s no harm in ensuring they are drilled into every truck driver’s mind.
When you are turning the wheel rapidly, especially in a parking lot, or if you are preparing to back up to a dock, it is extremely important to keep your fingers closed while you spin the wheel. This is even more important on older vehicles. After all, do you want to end up with broken fingers on your hand because you didn’t maintain a closed grip on the wheel?
Are you ensuring you are tarping a load in low winds? Unless you want to find yourself lifted 20 feet into the air by a 40 mph wind, it is vitally important that you ensure there are no strong prevailing winds before you tarp a load.
Watch Trailer Clearance
Whether you are operating a lowboy or a car-hauler, it is extremely important to pay extra attention to trailer clearance. From railroad tracks to parking lot grades, overpasses and bridges, don’t get caught up as you blast your radio and go careening down the road, only to end up with a major accident on your hands because you weren’t paying close enough attention to trailer clearance.
This may seem simple, but when you are on a run with few moments to spare, don’t find yourself driving and driving without taking a break to stop, stretch and check your trailer. This is especially important if you are hauling a flatbed load. Always double check for soft tires, air leaks or any dripping fluids underneath your stopped vehicle.
The fact is this: GPS is a truck driver’s best friend and nowadays GPS units designed specifically for truck drivers can provide vital information that was previously unavailable. Whether it be distance before exiting, lane changes or traffic reports, the cost of these units is worth the value they provide to the truck driver. GPS units can also help mitigate truck driver stress when they are entering an unknown area.
Use Caution in the Evening
If there’s one thing many a professional truck driver will attest to, it is the importance of utilizing extra caution at night. This is even more vital when you are in tricky maneuvering situations. The last thing you want to do is leave a truck strop at night, think you are entering the roadway, and then drive your vehicle into a ditch or hit the back end of another trailer. Always stay alert and move cautiously at night.
Do A Foot Check
When you are delivering, especially to a new customer, are you parking safely and scoping out the place before pulling up? All too often a shipper or receiver will say “Oh, don’t worry,” only for the hapless trucker to find that their vehicle is trapped and unable to turn around or exit a dock. This is also a good time to pay close attention to clearance. Whether it is a ditch, pole or fire hydrant – or just poorly designed dock – it is crucial that you do an on-foot vehicle inspection before backing in headlong into an unknown space.
The fact is, many of these may seem like things every truck driver should know, but not all truckers practice these – and the tips in Part I – on a regular basis. If you want to be a safe trucker, always keep these tips in mind!