Nowadays obtaining a commercial driver’s license is a really big thing. The processes in which drivers are tested have leveled up and everything is a lot stricter than it used to be. This is why it is extra important to be safe when you are on the road and operating your truck. The rules and regulations that govern trucks and truck drivers a world apart from what they use to keep private vehicle owners in line.
A truck is a very large vehicle; this is something that we can all agree upon. In order for you, if you are an independent contractor, to be an ideal hire for trucking companies, you must be highly efficient. This refers to your delivery time and the state of your driving. There are a lot of things that can always go wrong when you are on the road. Despite your best intentions, you cannot control how other people are going to drive.
A whopping 79% of all accidents that involve commercial vehicles, like trucks, are caused by other vehicles. It just so happened that a truck was involved. However, as trucks are the immediate concern (cargo and damages), it has always been easy to assume that it was the truck driver at fault.
If you are a truck driver, we highly recommend that you keep these safety tips in mind AT ALL TIMES.
Always Check Your Vehicle Before and After a Drive
The one thing that you can always keep under the realm of your control is your vehicle. Truck drivers much make it a habit to run diagnostics on their vehicles prior to a drive out. Once the run has been completed, it would be important to check the vehicle again before rolling out once more.
This makes the likelihood of any unforeseen mechanical developments to a minimum. Mechanical trouble is always a possibility when you are out on the road and running a large vehicle. As trucks are quite large, it can be difficult to rely on your ears and other senses to determine if there has been any damage to your vehicle. Always do ocular inspections of your vehicle before you use it—build your own set of checklists like gas, oil, breaks, tires, lights, and any connections that may have come undone during the drive there.
Keep Lane Changes TO AN ABSOLUTE Minimum
Truck drivers can keep accidents to a minimum if they keep to a single lane. Usually, there are specified truck lanes for larger places like cites. In smaller roads, it would just be best to stick to the middle lane of the road. This way, people who want to drive past you or speed up can do so without affecting you. If you need to make a turn, you will be able to signal way in advance and you will be in a ideal location to do so.
Lane changes can raise the chances of getting into an accident by about 40%. We don’t know about you but that is pretty high—and when you are in charge of precious cargo (i.e. yourself and your livelihood) it is very important to lower any chances of getting into an accident to about 2-5%.
Preempt Your Fatigue
A rule that many of used live by is to not wait until you feel absolutely tired before you take a rest. We have personally met a lot of drivers that often waited until they were feeling like their eyelids were made out of lead before they pulled over to rest. We understand that schedules and deadlines need to be met.
However, you must always be aware of your physical limitations as a driver. When you drive exhausted, you put yourself and others at risk. Since you are carrying a rather large vehicle, you present quite a significant risk for damage and fatalities. Try to watch out for your energy levels. Take note of the times wherein you feel fatigued the most. Make it a habit to preempt your fatigue and try not to take jobs around that time. Or if you absolutely must work, plan your breaks accordingly.
Keep a Handy Emergency Kit Ready
We aren’t referring to a handy-dandy first aid kit (that’s important to have, too). We are referring to a kit that you utilize if you DO get into an accident or run into any mechanical trouble. Have an extra radio that you can use to call for help or assistance in case your truck’s batteries die out and you can’t use your own radio.
Have flashers or reflective images on standby so you can whip them out to warn other drivers.
Safety should always be the number one priority of anyone who has their hands of a steering wheel. It does not matter if you are driving a small vehicle or a significantly larger vehicle, the safety of yourself and others should be a constant presence while you drive. It is hard enough to drive with a regular vehicle, right?
A commercial vehicle, especially a truck, comes with a whole different set of difficulties. There are a lot of factors beyond a driver’s control like weather, traffic conditions, wildlife and other drivers. This places emphasis on the need for defensive driving and presence of mind at all times. This is especially true for those who are owner operators of their own commercial vehicles.
It is the owner operators that have more to lose if they ever get into a traffic accident. We suggest that even if you have been driving for years, you make the time to take a refresher course on the laws and driving techniques that will keep you at the top of your performance game. One of the benchmarks of a great truck driver is one that is self-reliant and highly efficient. They know that they must be able to drive to the best of their capability while en route to a delivery or a pick up.
That said, we’re turning the question to you guys. What particular safety tips to you subscribe to when it comes to driving a commercial vehicle safely?