The road can be a dangerous place. No one knows this better than the truckers who spend their waking hours travelling on America’s highways. Follow these safety tips to ensure a peaceful, danger-free drive.
Perform a Pre-Trip Inspection
Take fifteen minutes to inspect your truck before every trip and at every rest stop. Make sure your truck complies with all of the federal and state requirements set for your safety.
Walk around the truck and look for any leaks. Check the air pressure on each tire to make sure they are full and ready to go. Inspect your belts and hoses. Check the oil, coolant, and power steering reservoirs. Follow all regulations.
Take Your Breaks
Fuel stops make regular breaks necessary. However, some drivers try to make up time by cutting their breaks short. This can lead to drowsiness and fatigue. Don’t put yourself at risk by taking shorter breaks than necessary.
Take the time to rest, walk around, and perform light exercise. All of these activities help drivers stay alert and awake.
Watch the Signs
After you drive down the same stretch of highway a half a dozen times or more, you might start to operate on auto-pilot and ignore road signs along the way. Take care to watch the road signs – speed limits change, constructions begins and ends, and new warnings might go up.
Watch for Animals
Cars aren’t the only danger on the road-wandering animals can pose a serious threat as well. Watch for animals like deer as you drive through winding highways. Even stray dogs and cats can make their way onto main roads and perhaps cause you to maneuver your truck differently and more dangerously.
When delays cause you to get behind schedule, you might start to feel pressure to go faster. When others seem to prevent you from reaching your destination in a timely fashion, it’s easy to get frustrated.
Stay calm and exercise patience as you drive along the highway. Don’t tailgate. Give yourself plenty of time to stop. Road rage will cause you to make avoidable mistakes.
Use Your Headlights
Headlights aren’t just for the dark of night. Whenever something inhibits your ability to see the road in front of you or others’ ability to see you, turn on your headlights. This includes the rain, fog, and snow.
Drive in the Right Lane When Possible
Your greatest blind spots are along the passenger side of your truck and trailer. If possible, try to drive in the far right lane to avoid sideswipes and related accidents.
If you must switch lanes, make sure to use your blinkers to signal your intentions.
Maintain Your Truck
Along with pre-trip inspections, perform regular maintenance on your truck to keep it running smoothly. When you keep up with the little things, you avoid larger, more dangerous and expensive issues later on.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Even if you do everything right, there is always a chance that you will get in an accident. A seat belt will prevent you from flying through the windshield. It can save your life and help you keep control of the vehicle.
Share the Road
When you’re driving a large truck, it’s easy to feel like you own the road. After all, who wants to go head-to-head with a semi truck? Remember to extend courtesy to the other drivers. Allow faster traffic to pass you without getting frustrated.
Watch for Stopped Vehicles
If you see a stopped vehicle on the side of the road, try to switch lanes to allow them some room. If this isn’t possible, slow down as you pass them.
Pay close attention as they may try to merge with traffic under unsafe conditions. Their mistake doesn’t have to put you in danger if you watch out of them.
Map Your Route
Never leave without thoroughly mapping out your route. Of course you need to know where you’re going, but there are benefits to doing a little more research. Check local weather conditions, traffic laws, and animal activity.
Make yourself aware of all factors that could impact your trip. For instance, backed up traffic in one area could make a longer detour a more efficient choice. If winter weather is a concern, consider a less windy, hill-filled route.
Create a Safety Kit
Prepare yourself for various emergencies with a truck safety kit. Regulations require commercial vehicles to carry a secure, charged fire extinguisher and emergency triangles. However you could also benefit from including a small tool kit, a flashlight and replacement lights and fuses. Bring along extra batteries for the flashlight as well.
Consider including a basic first aid kit in your truck. Don’t forget emergency supplies like a blanket, extra water, etc. in case you get stranded.
Watch Your Speed
Because of your trailer, it already takes you longer to stop than most vehicles on the road. As you increase your speed, you also increase your stopping time. Mind the posted speed limits for trucks, and obey any speed constraints from your trucking company. Make sure there is enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Stay safe as you travel across the country. Follow these safety tips reduce risks and enjoy your journey.