Some essential truck driving safety tips for the professional driver. It’s just the nature of the beast, that the trucking industry in general, has a tendency to be in a really big rush.
Other professions don’t seem to suffer from the ‘hurry, hurry, hurry’ thing like we do.
Driving a tractor trailer involves a great deal of skill, loads of responsibility for the safety of others and the driver and most importantly…… good common sense.
Being safety conscious is vital….it’s what will keep you alive when you’re faced with those tense moments.
Best Truck Driving Safety Tips
These truck driving safety tips are intended as general guidelines for big rig drivers.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS use your best common judgement and refer to specific rules and instructions from your carrier.
- Be alert. Know everything going on around you. Always look well ahead down the road and around your rig. When rolling down the highway, especially in heavy traffic, always plan an ‘escape route’. Be aware of who’s in front of you, beside you and behind you at all times. Be aware of everything, so you can act accordingly, if and when necessary. Being well rested keeps you at your best. The electronic logbook system, potentially provides a system for drivers to be well-rested, IF utilized properly by the carrier.
- Check weather reports. Be aware of weather conditions prior to departing on a trip, and check the reports as often as you’re able while traveling. Keep an eye on your outside temperature to watch for changing road conditions. Knowing what to expect, helps a trucker be better prepared for bad weather driving and necessary precautions can be taken. Good trip planning is essential.
- Avoid traffic. Whenever possible, avoid traveling at high volume traffic and peak traffic times. The more traffic, the greater the odds of an accident.
- Check out delivery spots, on foot. Of all driving safety tips, this one is most often ignored by truckers. When delivering, especially to a new customer, find a place to park safely, leave your rig for 5 minutes and scope out the place. Shippers will too often say, ‘Oh, we have trucks in here all the time, it’s ok’. Check for yourself. Many times a truck can get trapped in a place and unable to turn around or the docking facility isn’t suitable for big rigs. This way, you’ll see obstacles that may be in your way, such as low fire hydrants, posts, ditches, etc. Take a mental picture of the area. If you just drive in, you will NOT see the hazards.
A large percentage of truck accidents happen when backing up. Accidents are costly for everyone, and can seriously impair your driving record.
- Be extra cautious at night. Always exercise ‘extra’ caution at night, especially in tight maneuvering situations. I’ve seen too many truckers leaving a truck stop at night, thinking they’re headed for the road, and drive straight into a ditch, slam into the back end of a trailer and hit light posts head on. Be alert, be aware, move slowly and cautiously.
- Leave room in front of your rig. Always, always leave plenty of room in front of your vehicle. It can be very frustrating if you are only traveling 50 mph, and everyone else is doing 65 mph, BUT it can keep you out of trouble. This ‘buffer zone’ or ‘cushion’ in front of your rig, will protect you and your truck. Usually, if anything goes wrong, there’s a good chance it will be ahead of you. The more empty space you have in front of you and your unit, the more time you’ll have to ‘correct’ and slow down, if necessary.
- Change lanes as little as possible. Pick a lane and STAY in it. Cars will dodge and change lanes no matter what. If you do find it necessary to change lanes, move over very carefully, being aware of your blind spots and constantly check your mirrors. The odds of an accident increases dramatically, each time a vehicle makes a move to another lane. If you have maintained your lane position, in the event of an accident, the other vehicle will most likely be at fault, not you.
When entering a city from the freeway, take the 2nd lane from the right, to avoid merging vehicles. Cars love to hug the right lane and dodge all over…. they tend not to merge. Merging seems to be a ‘lost art’. This tip should also appear at the top of driving safety tips for cars too.
- Use a trucker’s GPS. A GPS designed especially for truckers, will show vital information such as which exit to take, distance before exit, when to change lanes, traffic reports etc. They are well worth the cost. These units can be a huge help and can alleviate a lot of stress for the driver, especially when traveling in unknown area. They are another great tool, but not to be relied on…. compare results with a good old fashioned map.
- Slow down…..THE most important of driving safety tips for truckers. I can’t stress this point enough. Big trucks don’t corner like a Ferrari, nor do they handle like one. Always take the corners and ramps very slowly. Speed signs on ramps are for cars, not big rigs. It doesn’t matter if you hold up traffic. The main focus is to get around a corner and be ‘upright’.
Travel slowly and maintain control. There’s never a need to get above 2nd gear in a parking lot. The only place to travel safely at top speeds? Perhaps in the middle of Wyoming on I-80 on the flats on a clear day. Always drive with care and control. Don’t drive as fast as you think you can get away with.
- Take breaks and check your rig. Stop and stretch yourself as needed. Do a walk around the vehicle and trailer. Check your load, too, especially if you’re hauling a flatbed. Look for soft tires, air leaks, check under the truck for any dripping coolant or oil.
My BEST advice for
driving safety tips for truckers?
Don’t EVER skip any steps when driving or maneuvering your big rig.
When you do, you are compromising YOUR safety and everyone else traveling with you on the road.
Remember, no matter how hot the load is, it’s always better to arrive safely…..ARRIVE ALIVE!!!!
Nothing is worth risking your life for….. not even your job.
More Safe Driving Tips: By Truckers
The driving safety tips page from this site are some of the best I’ve ever seen. As an occasional CDL driving instructor, I plan to use “Smart Trucking. com’s” tips page, (and other pages) as mandatory reading, with testing afterwards!
Yes, most tips/ instructions can be classified under the “common sense” clause, but many bear repeating… OVER AND OVER!
Some of the lesser known tips……
**When turning the steering wheel rapidly, such as in a parking lot, or preparing to back-up to a dock,etc., KEEP YOUR FINGERS CLOSED while spinning the wheel.. especially on the older Internationals. 3 broken fingers on the left hand, (twice in one day), and 2 on the right hand…. can attest to such folly. (yes, I’m laughing too..)
** Do not attempt to tarp a load in a 40 mph wind!.. (watched a guy get lifted 22′ into the air before he let go, breaking his ankle at the Petro, Richmond, VA.) Myself and 3 other drivers carried him to the building, where an ambulance was called.
** If driving a rig with low clearance (lowboy, “parking-lot”, or car-hauler, Landoll,etc..), be careful about trailer clearance! ie. railroad tracks, rises in parking lot grades… (at 3:00 am ,in Richmond, VA., watched a car-hauler “bottom-out” his trailer on the entrance to a Toyota dealership), with his trailer sticking out into the road, blocking BOTH lanes of an east-west 4 lane highway. I was delivering auto parts to a Volkswagen dealership across the street, and grabbed a 20′ grade 70 chain I had with me, and using my rig, pulled him off the rise, using my front “tow hooks”… (BEFORE the cops got there!)
**There are other gems such as ‘why you shouldn’t raise a 40’ dump trailer in high winds, OR within 40′ or ANOTHER dump trailer (ever see domino’s fall?), or “soft’ or uneven ground, especially if it’s a “frame-less dump”.
**It’s a simple word that means so much….A great man put a little tiny plaque under my speedo many years ago,and now I put one there in any truck I that I drive. That word is…...“THINK”…. one of the best driving safety tips out there.
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