The safety of both employees and consumers is a top priority for industries that adhere to Occupational Safety and Health Administration protocols. While most companies have safety experts who specialize in protecting their employees, as a truck driver, you are the one who ensures the well-being of yourself and other drivers. Whether you own-operate your truck driving business or lease a semi-truck, read on to learn how you can keep yourself and other drivers safe on the road.
Not only is this the law, but wearing your seatbelt can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 45%, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. Studies have shown that approximately 1 in 6 truck drivers does not wear their seat belts, and according to the CDC, you are 30 times more likely to be ejected following a crash if you do not buckle up. Protect yourself by securing your body.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
While this safety protocol may seem like a no-brainer, you must stay away from the driver’s seat if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This protocol is not only for your safety but for the safety of all other drivers on the road. Drugs include any substance that may alter your judgment or mobility, including medication that may cause drowsiness. Failure to follow this safety tip can result in job termination, jail time, and possible litigation against you and your company.
Use Three Points of Contact
When entering or exiting your vehicle, always use three points of contact: two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. When necessary, place items such as food and beverages on the floor or seat of your vehicle to keep your hands free. One of the most common injuries in the workplace results from slips, trips, and falls. Be mindful of weather conditions that may cause your tractor to be slippery.
Reduce Speed on Curves
When driving around a curve, the observed speed limit is typically too fast for large trucks. Reduce your speed by 5-10 mph below the posted speed limit to ensure truck stability and reduce the risk of tipping. You may need to reduce your speed if driving in poor weather conditions. Check your mirrors to be aware of cars changing lanes behind your vehicle.
Driving too closely to the vehicle in front of you is dangerous and can cause unwarranted stress for that driver. To protect yourself and the well-being of those in your path, always maintain a safe distance of seven to eight seconds from the vehicle in front of you. When weather conditions worsen, increase the distance to 14 seconds to ensure your truck has space to come to a complete stop.
This includes any activity that may divert the driver’s attention from the road. Being constantly aware of your surroundings is essential to practicing truck safety. It takes several seconds for a fully loaded truck to come to a complete stop. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over three thousand lives were lost in 2019 due to distracted driving. When you’re on the road, you should avoid texting, listening to the radio in poor weather conditions, eating, or falling asleep at the wheel. Put distracting items down and pull over to rest if you feel tired.
Know Your Trailer
The combined length of your tractor and trailer is approximately 70 feet, so it is essential to consider this when making lane changes and sharp turns. Always apply the “Take 10” technique for lane changes (signal for three seconds while checking mirrors and then change lanes for seven seconds). Taking the extra time to be cautious of surroundings can save lives.
Watch Your Blind Spots
- Adjust your mirrors so you can adequately see areas surrounding your vehicle.
- Be aware of the “no-zone” blind spots and always use caution by applying the “Take 10” technique in Tip 7 when changing lanes or turning.
- As a rule of thumb, check your mirrors every 8 – 10 seconds to watch for vehicles entering your blind spots. If lane changes are not necessary, adjust your speed instead to reduce the risk of an accident.
Observe Signs and Directions
Before hitting the road, you should review directions to feel comfortable with the turns you will be making. Pay attention to the posted speed limit and reduce your speed when going around curves. When exiting a truck stop, observe the signs to enter the highway correctly. If you miss a turn, don’t panic and follow these steps:
- Do not attempt to make a U-turn or back across a highway. It is better to keep going until you find a place, such as a parking lot, to pull over and turn around.
- Pullover in a safe area to review directions. It may be necessary to drive an alternate route.
- Call non-emergency services if you find yourself stuck in a dead-end. Authorities would rather help you back out safely than respond to an accident.
Eat Healthy and Get Rest
One of the most important steps you can take to prepare for driving long hours is maintaining a healthy diet and getting eight hours of sleep each night. If you feel tired, be sure to pull over and sleep, grab a snack, and stretch your legs. When finding an area to park, inspect the destination to ensure you are somewhere safe and well-lit. Junk food, sugary drinks, and large meals tend to cause drowsiness, so substitute with healthier options when available.
Following these truck driving tips not only keeps you safe while on the job but keeps those who are sharing the road safely as well.
Need Help Finding Commercial Truck Insurance?
Every trucker needs insurance, but it’s often tricky to identify your needs and find the right provider for your business. That’s why you should consider using a trucking insurance specialist. At Brother’s Insurance, we work for you, not the insurance companies. We use our industry knowledge and connections to get more affordable liability, property damage, bodily injury, and cargo insurance that fits your business perfectly.
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