Truckers transport cargo of all types and are a vital part of our economy. Because trucks are typically much larger and ride higher than other vehicles on the roads, truckers can get a false sense of security about safety. You, as the professional driver, can contribute greatly to prevent accidents and injuries on the road. Whether surface street or highway, interstate or intrastate, short haul or long haul, your attention to safety can make sure that each trip ends well. A trained, healthy and fit truck driver is the single most important safety feature on a truck.
For optimal driving safety:
- Maintain your overall health and well-being with good fitness and nutrition.
- Check with your doctor about health conditions and prescription medications that may affect your driving ability.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Avoid extreme amounts of caffeine and other stimulants that can make you irritable, jittery, and distracted.
- Multi-tasking takes your mind off the road and your primary responsibility—driving.
Fatigue is one of the chief contributors to vehicle accidents. Only drive when you are well rested. To maintain your alertness when driving, learn about the symptoms of fatigue so you can identify them, alleviate them, and prevent fatigue related accidents. Be sure to:
- Follow the hours of service rules for your particular trip, cargo, and equipment type.
- Develop techniques to keep you alert while you drive: listen to upbeat music, cool the cabin temperature down, and crack the windows for noise and air.
- If you feel too sleepy to drive, pull over to a safe location and sleep. Even a 15-minute nap can improve your level of alertness and safety.
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of workplace fatalities. Taking responsibility for road safety can keep you, other truck drivers, and regular motorists safe, even if other drivers on the road are not as trained, professional, or courteous.
- Always wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts keep you strapped into the seat, secure in the cab, and in control of the steering wheel if there is an emergency.
- Practice situational awareness. Scan ahead and use your side mirrors periodically to watch for road hazards.
- Maintain a safe driving speed for the given road type and road conditions.
- Keep a safe following distance between you and other vehicles so you can stop the truck and trailer in enough time and distance to avoid an accident.
- Slow down or change lanes through construction zones or when passing close to emergency and disabled vehicles on the side of the road.
Proper professional training, certifications, and experience are needed to operate your particular truck and trailer setup and cargo type:
- Learn about the special maneuvering and handling requirements for transporting liquids, oversize objects, multiple trailers, etc.
- Know about the load you are hauling, its particular properties, and any specific hazards associated with it.
- Inspect each load before you take it onto the road to ensure that it is stowed and secured safely.
- Inspect and maintain your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and vehicle regulations.
- Know and practice safe emergency procedures in case of a breakdown or accident.
- Keep emergency supplies such as food, water, high visibility clothing, a flashlight, tools, flares, and warning signs in your truck for use in emergencies.
Making sure that, as a professional truck driver, you pay attention to the road, maintain your equipment, control your driving habits, and maintain your health, you will help prevent accidents and will get you, your cargo, and fellow drivers safely to each destination.