Driving a commercial vehicle is a trade that demands a great deal of skill and requires attention to detail. However, it requires a commitment to safety first and foremost. The size and weight of the trucks you drive make them inherently more dangerous than other vehicles, so you must take every precaution possible to ensure the safety of yourself and others.
This article will discuss ten safety tips to help you prevent accidents and make safety your top priority behind the wheel.
1. Practice Defensive Driving
Today, there are between 1.53-3.36 million truck drivers in the U.S. All CDL drivers, including you, must practice defensive driving to detect potential roadway hazards and take measures to avoid them before an accident occurs.
First, practice the three-second rule. Truck drivers should allow three full seconds to pass between the time the car in front of them reaches a spot on the road. It also includes the time you take to reach that spot.
For icy roads, increase the time to 10 seconds. For windy or heavy rain, increase it by five seconds.
Always signal when you change lanes. Even if the roads are quiet, reduce your risk of an accident by signaling lane changes.
Be aware of emergencies such as breakdowns and bad driving conditions. Have a change of clothes, a first aid kit, snacks, water, and blankets.
2. Slow Down
Semi-trucks are much larger and heavier than the other cars on the road. Therefore they need more time and distance to come to a complete stop. If you’re traveling at high speeds (even if it’s driving at the posted speed limit), you may not have enough time to react to roadway hazards like sudden traffic, stalled cars, and road debris, and an accident may occur.
This is why you must slow down and leave enough room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Plus, slowing down can lessen your risk of tire blowout and reduce your fuel consumption.
3. Perform Pre and Post-trip Inspections
When companies are hiring CDL drivers, they should discuss pre and post-trip inspections. All trucks need to be safe before you begin driving.
While DOT requires safety inspections, some companies will have extra tools for them. If any repairs are necessary, they can be completed before you leave.
4. Check Your Blind Spots
Check your mirrors every 8-10 seconds to view blind spots. Continuously view the road ahead for at least 15 seconds at a time for dangers, work zones, etc.
Check for longer stopping distances. Curves, road conditions, and other unforeseen events could cause accidents if you don’t prepare. You need a large amount of room to stop safely.
5. Buckle Up
Always abide by the law and buckle up. Seat belts could help to reduce injuries and save lives. In 2020, approximately 10,893 unbuckled drivers and passengers were killed in crashes in the United States.
Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck. Have the lap belt across your hips. Never place it under your arm or behind your back.
6. Get Comfortable
Adjust the backrest, seat height, and steering wheel before you begin. Have your truck’s turn-by-turn navigation ready to go in advance.
Take breaks every few hours to rest up. Use parking lots, not shoulders, to stop and then walk around. Stay safe by waiting to text or call until you’re at a rest stop.
7. Stay Focused
Stay alert no matter the distance. Give the road your full attention.
Minimize distractions when you’re on the road. Always practice good sleeping habits by getting at least seven hours of sleep.
If there’s heavy traffic or poor weather conditions, turn off the radio. Don’t use your phone while driving; wait until a rest stop.
Eat at rest stops and before you start your engine. Set your GPS before you go.
8. Be Aware of All Moving Parts
Be mindful of the trailer track when changing lanes or making turns. Ensure there aren’t any objects in your passenger seat that block your view.
Pay attention to all signs and directions. If you head to a rest stop, ensure that you know how to get back onto the highway.
If you miss a turn, don’t panic. Never make a U-turn to head back or cross the roadway.
If you’re stuck at a dead-end, call the police to help you back out. It’s better to receive help than to get into an accident.
9. Avoid Aggressive Drivers
Watch out for aggressive and distracted drivers. You’re responsible for delivering goods from one location to the next. A road rage incident not only puts you and others at risk but also jeopardizes your job.
If you feel angry, look for a rest stop and get off the road. Take a few deep breaths and move your body before driving again. Driving aggressively is unsafe and irresponsible and should be avoided at all costs.
Likewise, if you see an aggressive driver, don’t respond since it could escalate the situation. If you’re unable to avoid the situation and need emergency help, dial 9-1-1.
10. Drive with a Clear Head
There should be no alcohol or drugs in your system. It’s against the law and very unsafe. If found to be under the influence and behind the wheel, you will most certainly lose your job and possibly your license, and you may serve jail time or pay hefty fines.
Check the side effects of over-the-counter and prescription medications as well. Speak to your doctor about alternatives if they cause drowsiness.
Limit high-caffeinated drinks, including energy drinks. Once they wear off, they could make you more exhausted.
Essential Safety Tips for CDL Truck Drivers
This guide provides essential safety tips that all CDL truck drivers should follow on the road. Not only could it protect you, but others on the road as well.
Is safety important to you? Are you a CDL truck driver looking for your next job? We’re hiring!
We have truck driving opportunities in both Kansas City and St. Louis. It’ll be hard to find similar benefits out there between our great pay and benefits. Apply today; we look forward to hearing from you!