Truck Driver Safety Roundup
We’ve rounded up the best tips from reputable sources to give you a comprehensive checklist to run through before you hit the road. First some relevant trucking industry fast facts to keep in mind:
- *Truck driver is the most common occupation in 29 states (Business Insider, 2016)
- *Truck drivers log 432 billion miles annually (Business Insider, 2016)
- *About 130,000 individuals are injured each year in truck collisions (TruckAccidents.org, 2019)
Here’s our comprehensive commercial driver safety checklist, while some seem obvious, it’s important to remember to do them.
- Complete Pre-trip Safety Inspections especially for tires and breaks, make sure your load is well balanced and secure to prevent a shifting load.
- Use a Truck Route GPS because non-commercial navigation systems and apps may not include height/weight limits and other restrictions.
- Check the Weather before you get going to be prepared for any extreme rain or snow conditions.
- Adjust Everything before you start driving, from your seat height, distance and backrest to your mirrors.
- Dress Comfortable for long drives, loose clothing, tennis shoes or boots depending on the weather.
- Wear your Seatbelt and make sure it’s secure across your pelvis or hips, not your stomach, and don’t let is rub against your neck
- *If you need a larger belt, get a seat belt extender from the vehicle manufacturer.
- Signal and Brake Early so that other drivers know when you are changing lanes or slowing down, also use flashers, reflective triangles or flares if you pull off the road.
- Take Breaks especially at rest stops, stretch your legs, walk around and move your body so you don’t get too stiff.
- Don’t Over-exert yourself with heavy loads, use pallets and fork trucks when loading/unloading or seek assistance when necessary.
- Avoid Distractions as much as possible while driving like adjusting your GPS, making calls, using other devices and eating messy foods.
- *The Mobile Phone Restriction Rule for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers restricts the use of all handheld mobile devices while driving.
- Adhere to Speed Limits since they vary by location (rural, urban, limited access roads), and state, some speed limits change for nighttime driving.
- Follow Local Laws, and review the commercial driver handbook for your territories. Example: California Commercial Driver Handbook 2018
- Scan Ahead and Around about every 15 seconds for unexpected road conditions, traffic, work zones, distracted drivers, vehicles entering your blind spots and other dangers.
- Drive Defensively at all times by controlling your speed, watching out for other drivers, adjusting for weather/road conditions, and staying alert.
- Maneuver Carefully
- * Slow down for turns and curves given the wide turning radius of your vehicle.
- * Turn wide with enough space around you making sure the rear of your truck is not going to hit anything.
- * Be careful not to over-steer, over-brake, over-accelerate or drive too fast. Learn the proper techniques to recover from a skid or spinout.
- * Factor in the time it takes to stop plus the truck size/weight to determine total braking distance.
- Perception distance: it takes almost a second to see a hazard and for your brain to understand it.
- Reaction distance: it takes almost a second for your brain to tell you to brake.
- Braking distance: it takes about 4 seconds for your vehicle to stop once you’ve hit the brakes.
- Avoid Heavy Traffic and get to your destination faster. If stuck in it, leave enough space in front of you for breaking, and change lanes less.
- Take Extra Precautions for Night Driving, get your eyes checked regularly, keep windows and mirrors clean to reduce glare, consider night vision glasses, and pay attention to when you’re too tired to drive.
- Don’t Drink or Take Drugs and Drive, it impairs your judgment and is illegal. Medications that cause drowsiness have a similar effect.
- Ascend and Descend Mountain Passes appropriately. Downshift gears when going up to find your sweet spot. Use an even lower gear when going down.
- Exit your Truck Carefully to avoid a fall or strong impact on your joints, climb up or down without jumping from the cab to the ground.
- Get Enough Sleep so you can be at your best. After hours of driving, pay attention to how tired you are.
Winter and extreme weather conditions call for additional safety measures, which we’ll cover in a subsequent post later in the year.
Stay safe out there!
~ Team Trans International Trucking
Thank you to CDL.com, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Monster.com and Driving Test’s Ultimate List of Driving Statistics for 2019 for sharing important safety statistics and information referenced in this post.