As the trucking employee crunch gets worse by the day, many who are considering entering the profession wonder: Is trucking really safe? Look, we aren’t going to mince words or sugarcoat the matter. The fact is, truck drivers and those in passenger cars do get killed in trucking accidents every year. Trucking is a high-risk profession. Yet, if you operate your vehicle in a safe manner and keep essential safety tips in mind, there is no reason why you shouldn’t hit your million-mile mark without a blemish on your record or an injury on your mind.
There are specific steps professional truck drivers can take to ensure they stay safe on the road each and every day. Let’s go through each step, one-by-one.
Signaling By Sight
When you get to an intersection, are you signalling early to ensure the passenger vehicles around you know which way your truck will be turning well in advance? If not you may not be operating safely.
Are you slowing down before a complete stop is necessary? The last thing you want to do is try to come to a complete stop on a dime in an 80,000 pounds Class 8 commercial motor vehicle. Always remember how much time it takes for your vehicle to come to a complete stop. If you see brake lights ahead, this should be a sign to not take your time.
Avoid Lane Changes
Ask any professional truck driver and they will tell you that they do their best to avoid changing lanes. Since a tractor’s blind spots are so large, unnecessary lane changes present an unnecessary risk. Also, make sure you check your mirrors with a cursory glance on a regular basis (perhaps 10 – 15 seconds).
Lights and Flashers
When going through pre- or post-trip inspections, make sure you always check your headlights brake lights, and turn signals. This is the best way to avoid accidents. In situations where you have to drive slower than the posted speed limit, make sure to use your flashers to alert those on the road around you why you are driving slower than normal.
Parking Your Vehicle
When you are getting ready to park your vehicle, make sure you are aware of where your vehicle has room and clearance to park. There are generally specific garages set aside for commercial motor vehicles. Make sure you are never parked on the side of a roadway unless your tractor is disabled. And always do your best to never obstruct a motorist’s view of oncoming traffic, no matter where you are parked. Finally, NEVER park in oncoming traffic. If required, use flares or safety triangles to alert other drivers that your vehicle has been disabled.
Idling Your Vehicle
Always remember that idling your vehicle for more than five minutes represents an unnecessary waste of fuel. Whether you are sleeping. loading, unloading, or otherwise, make sure your vehicle is turned off. If you do need to idle for any reason, make sure your windows are closed. You can even wear a safety mask if necessary.
If you are a long-haul trucker, there are extra safety rules to keep in mind. Although you can spend many hours on the road, make sure to avoid tailgating. Don’t let frustration creep in and cause a safety incident. If you are experiencing fatigue, make sure to stop, no matter what. And since you will be sitting for long periods of time, do not hesitate to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.
In the end, make sue you are keeping these principles in mind, and you will be sure to operate safely, year-after-year!