There are some highly critical things a professional truck driver should be watching for when driving a tractor trailer. Their attention must be focused on their driving and on the surroundings.
Driving a big rig is an important job. It takes the driver’s full attention to do it safely and well.
Keep your full attention focused on what you’re doing, where you’re going, what’s going on around you. Give your complete focus and pay full attention to your job and you’ll do well at it.
What Truckers Should Be Watching – Truck Driving Safety Advice
- Look ahead. Always look as far ahead down the road as you possibly can. Try to anticipate trouble. Watch for cars going sideways, merging onto the highway from ramps, and anything unusual going on. Always keep in mind, that whatever is ahead on the road, is a potential problem to deal with. Be prepared for this.
- Look for an escape route. When driving, I watch for an escape route from any potential trouble. I constantly check to the left and the right of my truck. Then, if a car turns sideways in front of me, I know I can move quickly out of the way, if necessary, as I’ve already looked and I know there’s nothing beside me. Keep a constant visual check all around the vehicle. Keep your eye on everything going on around you. Then, when necessary, you’re aware of an escape route if needed.
- Maintain a safety circle. One of the most important truck driving safety guidelines.This gives the driver the best visibility. Leave plenty of space in front of vehicle. Also, leave a nice big cushion of room all the way around the vehicle whenever possible. I don’t like to be tucked in among the cars in traffic. If it becomes necessary to change lanes or move, there might be another vehicle sitting in your blind spot that you haven’t noticed. It’s always better to keep yourself in a wide open area and in the clear. This can be very difficult to do when in heavy traffic. There will be cars cutting in front of your truck constantly. When this happens, I slow down, so they can go ahead of me. Then, I’ve always got a nice, big safe operating distance in front of my truck. I don’t like cars close to me, especially out in front. They are so unpredictable. If they do something stupid, it’s critical there’s some time to react. If the car is too close to your truck, there won’t be sufficient time to react. Creating the safety circle, helps to keep everyone safe.
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- Check your mirrors often. Always be aware of what’s going on all around the vehicle. Check the blind spots. Truckers should be constantly checking their mirrors to keep an eye on the traffic around them. Also keep a close eye on the trailer. Keep an eye out for a flat tire, smoke emerging from underneath the trailer.
- Scan all gauges. I like to scan my gauges constantly. The gauges are indicators of potential mechanical trouble. Sometimes the simplest things can cause big problems. Check your fuel level and that electrical systems are charging. Check for overheating. Some trucking companies cut costs by eliminating the extra gauges, which is not a good idea. The gauges are not only indicators and monitors of various truck functions but they are also safety monitors.
- Glance at the GPS. I usually run with the GPS turned on, particularly when I’m not familiar with the area. The GPS will give me information regarding important things such as scales coming up, for instance. My GPS will give me such information like what lane I should be in and the distance to my exit ramp. This allows me to plan far ahead of time, that it’s necessary to change lanes. They are useful particularly when a driver is delivering to a destination for the first time. Although, not to be depended on, the GPS can be a handy working tool.
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- Weather and temperature. Especially driving in the winter months and shoulder seasons, I pay close attention to the outside temperature and the weather around me. I have an outside temperature gauge mounted for this purpose. I think most trucks should have such a device. A truck driver needs to know that critical information when a wet surface is turning to ice.
- Watch for low bridges and low wires. When looking ahead, I especially look for low bridges and low hanging wires, especially when driving in urban areas. Many a city driver, has peeled the roof from a truck and trailer unnecessarily.
Driving a tractor trailer is a huge responsibility. Truckers should be at their best at all times behind the wheel, and keep a sharp eye on their surroundings.
In this video, an experienced driver talks about what a trucker SHOULD be watching.