This country doesn’t run without long-haul commercial drivers. But trucking can be a dangerous occupation as uneven cargo, traffic accidents, and late nights on the road can all pose hazardous threats to even the most highly experienced drivers. If you are now or may be considering a job in the long-haul trucking industry, these important safety tips will help ensure that you and your load arrive at every destination safe and sound.
1. Take Care of Yourself
The truck doesn’t run without you. But if you aren’t awake and alert enough to operate the truck safely then you aren’t driving and you’re not making money. That’s why the best and most important safety tip is all about making sure you are at peak performance every time you slide in behind that wheel. This means always getting enough rest, taking breaks when you need them, eating right, and even getting in some exercise between trips.
2. Driving in Bad Weather
Rain, sleet, snow, all of these things can increase the danger that comes with operating a large commercial tractor-trailer. That’s why it’s critical to slow down when you hit rough weather, because it’s going to be more difficult to maneuver successfully. Always signal when you change lanes, but do it even earlier than normal in wet and snowy conditions. Driving slower also lets you brake more effectively without slipping, skidding, or hydroplaning in water. When in doubt, ease up off the gas and if the roads are just too icy or windy to proceed safely, pull over and wait until it’s okay to drive.
3. Mind the Blind Spot
Due to the size of a truck, there are more blind spots to be aware of than with other vehicles. Drivers moving with you in traffic may not even realize they’ve entered these areas, which can make it tough for you to see them. These areas are located at the rear of the truck, beside the cab, and behind each side mirror. Those areas are almost impossible to see from a trucker’s point of view, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a vehicle in one of them. So it’s up to you as the driver of the truck to always be on the lookout and be cautious about changing lanes and keeping a safe distance between you and other motorists.
4. Take Care of Your Truck
Without your truck, you don’t drive. So be sure to properly maintain the vehicle at all times, making sure you perform a full safety inspection before you hit the road each day. Be sure all the fluids are at the correct levels, check the brakes, and always put the right fuel in your tank to keep the engine running smoothly. Commercial truck fueling cards are a handy and affordable way to gas up each morning so you’re ready to roll anytime.
5. Proper Loading Procedures
When your trailer isn’t loaded properly, that’s putting undue strain on the truck. Avoid stacking your cargo too high to keep from putting more drag on your vehicle than need be. Instead, stack your load lower and spread out over the entire floor of the trailer, not just in one area. This will make the truck easier to maneuver and get you better fuel efficiency.