Commercial truck driving can be a wonderful career, but it also comes with great responsibility. Unlike other vehicles on the road such as a passenger sedan or truck, for example, these vehicles are much larger and simply drive differently. This can pose a safety risk for not only the truck driver, but other drivers on the road as well. However, many accidents can easily be avoided by following safe driving tips for truck drivers.
Be Aware of Blind Spots
Trucks have a larger blind spot than other types of automobiles. This is a hazard when in traffic with multiple lanes and when another vehicle is attempting to pass. Having a sign indicating that if the other driver cannot see the mirrors they cannot be seen is very helpful but the driver must still remain vigilant, as not all motorists will follow this advice. At all times, the truck driver should attempt to know if there are vehicles beside on him on either side or behind him.
Keep a Safe Following Distance
Stopping distances for trucks are not as speedy as what they are for a passenger vehicle. This may be especially so if the driver is hauling goods. Other vehicles should not be followed closely, as the driver should anticipate the need for stopping. He should always allow extra distance between vehicles in the case of a sudden, unforeseen stop. For most vehicles, the Department of Highway Safety recommends at least a two second following distance. This should be increased for commercial vehicles and trucks.
Know the Roads
Depending on the roads that the trucker is traveling, different rules may apply. For example, some areas may not allow air brakes to be used or the speed limit for trucks may be lesser than what it is for general traffic. The driver should be aware of these conditions at all times. Not only can this assist in greater safety but can also avoid hefty tickets or fines for failure to comply. Road construction is also of special concern. In work zones, speed limits are decreased and there is typically narrower lanes of travel.
Maintain the Vehicle Regularly
One huge safety concern pertains directly to the routine maintenance of commercial trucks. Since they are larger, failure to proper functionally can pose even greater risks. For example, a bad tire or faulty brakes can easily lead to an accident. The driver should always ensure that the vehicle is in good operating condition. Tires should be checked regularly for wear-and-tear and proper inflation, brake pads should also be inspected and fluids checked frequently. The frequency will vary by the mileage and sometimes even company policies.
Get Adequate Amounts of Rest
Among common causes of accidents for any kind of driver is lack of sleep. In order to remain alert, it is important for the driver to get enough shut eye. Statistics indicate that those that do not get enough rest have impaired judgment behind the wheel, even if they do not fall asleep while driving. Braking times may become slower, the driver may not fully be aware of everything going on around him and may be more careless. Whether the trucker is making shorter or longer trips, he should opt for 6-8 hours of rest each night and pull over if becoming drowsy.
Other Important Considerations
These are just a few safety tips that truck drivers can use on a daily basis to protect themselves and others. One of the most important things they can do though is to always drive defensively. Driving defensively can help prevent many accidents and citations alone. Defensive driving can be accomplished by simply choosing to obey all traffic rules, abstaining from aggressive driving and planning ahead for what other drivers may be doing.