Truck driving is one of the most crucial jobs in the U.S. Truckers deliver goods, bridging the gap between businesses and their consumers. Often, drivers spend quite a bit of time on the road, and since their main goal is to deliver goods across the country it can feel like they are racing against the clock. While meeting delivery time is important, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice safety to arrive on time. There are smart ways to ensure you are doing all you can to protect yourself while on the road.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Vigilance is one of the easiest ways to ensure driver safety. As an operator of a commercial vehicle, you usually tower over other drivers, who sometimes have no awareness of you on the road, despite your size. Many drivers are distracted, so it’s up to you to be aware of cars and motorcycles. Scan ahead about a quarter of a mile on the interstate and look for traffic issues, slowing cars, work zones, and other possible dangers.
Keep Your Truck Maintained
If you own and operate your commercial vehicle, make sure you maintain proper fluid levels, check your windshield wipers, brakes, and mirrors every three thousand miles. These areas are minor, but failure to keep them in good working condition could lead to an unnecessary accident. If you work for a fleet and notice anything unusual, report it to dispatch immediately to avoid further issues down the line.
Avoid Large Quantities of Caffeine
Coffee is synonymous with energy, but one problem with binging is the slump when it wears off. Caffeine can give you a much-needed boost, but it’s not a replacement for sleep. Only drink coffee to perk you up after a night of sleep, rather than relying on it to keep you going. One of the biggest issues with sleep deprivation is the clouded thinking, impaired judgment, or the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel. Staying focused will keep you safe while driving.
Be Prepared for Bad Weather
25% of all speeding-related trucking accidents are caused by inclement weather, and the driver was failing to plan appropriately. Staying safe during harsh conditions like rain, sleet, or snow involve reducing speed and allowing yourself more time for essential maneuvers like turning a corner. Indicate with your blinker a few times before trying to switch lanes to give other cars on the road the opportunity to work around you.
Eat Small Portions Throughout the Day
The ultimate goal is to get your truckload to the destination on time. Many drivers will ensure this happens by making fewer pit stops and loading up on food. Eating large quantities of high-fat, carbs, and sugars will spike the blood sugar levels, then immediately bring them back down. This dramatic drop will cause drowsiness and create issues with maintaining focus. Try eating smaller, healthier portions throughout the day rather than one big meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Be Aware of Speed in a Work Zone
Work zones are a breeding ground for potential dangers. They are unpredictable and often require lane changes and sudden stops. Additionally, the roads may be uneven, and workers might be present on the street. To avoid a fatal accident, slow down and obey all roadside information. Continue to scan ahead to look for changing traffic patterns, and keep an eye out for workers and roadside crew.
Take a Power Nap
A twenty-minute nap could be the best thing you can do for yourself. Resting your brain will calm your nervous system and increase your alertness. Maintaining clarity while driving in hazardous weather conditions, weaving through work zones, and working with other cars on the road is paramount to staying safe. Never drive while you’re fatigued or too ill to focus.
Don’t Text While Driving
Truck drivers are away from their families and friends for extended periods of time. They can become lonely and understandably homesick. Maintaining relationships across distances is easier with the advancement of technology, but the only downside is using it hazardously. Texting is the most prominent distraction while driving. It’s actually illegal for commercial drivers to text while driving and there strict rules about mobile use and for a good reason. Research has shown texting on average takes 4.6 seconds, which seems like a very short time, but when you think about traveling at 55 mph on the interstate, that’s 371 feet which is longer than a football field. That’s a lot of distance in a short amount of time, which increases that chance of an accident.
Limit Other Distractions
Speaking of distractions, phone use isn’t the only issue. Eating, drinking, using a map, or talking with dispatch can take the focus off what’s going on around you. You can’t ignore dispatch when they need you, but you can make sure your device is set up correctly and within easy reach. Food and drink will help you keep your blood sugar levels up, just make sure they aren’t tucked away where it’s difficult to access. If there are items you’ll need throughout your drive, keep them within arms distance.
Load Cargo Wisely
Truck drivers are the backbone of the trade industry. Without their skills, the American economy wouldn’t be what it is. Depending on who you work for, your cargo loads will look differently, but one thing every driver can do is ensure they are loading cargo appropriately. Stacking your load high creates drag. If you’re able to keep it low and spread it throughout the truck bed, not only will you be more nimble on the road, but you’ll save on fuel.
Think you have what it takes to become a truck driver? Contact us today or call 877-277-0238 to join the Beacon team.