Accident Prevention for Truckers
Professional drivers are road warriors; they spend hours, days, to weeks on the road to deliver the goods the public needs daily. With the occupation comes clear hazard: accidents, collisions, and other incidents that can damage equipment or drivers themselves. Research conducted by the FMCSA found that 13% of traffic fatalities involve a large truck or bus. The good news is that most accidents are preventable! Though a trucker cannot control the weather, pedestrians, wildlife or what other drivers do, there are some tips that can help prevent any incidents on the road. A safe driver not only faces less risks for accidents and injury, but also can be rewarded by his or her company. Accidents can result in lengthy lawsuits and large fines for carriers, so companies often look to hire drivers with clean accident-free records. By focusing on staying a proactive, safe, and cautious driver, you can reduce your risk for accidents and accelerate your career.
- The first and most obvious safety measure to live by is to always use is a seatbelt. In the case of any mishaps, your seatbelt can be the determining factor between a minor incident or serious injury. Not to mention, failure to properly use a seatbelt while driving can result in hefty fines and tickets from law enforcement.
- Slow driving may not get you there early, but it will get you there safely. The FMCSA found that in 2016-2017, speed was a determining factor in 17% of truck accidents that resulted in at least one fatality. Having patience and thinking through your actions can be the difference between a close call or severe wreck. Driving slowly allows a trucker more time to bring his or her vehicle to a stop safely in case of an emergency, results in more precise movements when parking, and in worst case scenarios, can reduce the severity of impact in a collision.
- Distractions are everywhere when driving. Driving for hours on end can certainly be a challenge but focusing on the road is critical for your safety and the safety of others. A major distraction for most drivers (truckers and non-truckers alike) is cell phone usage. In the traffic safety study from the FMCSA referenced above, findings also revealed that 6% of accidents involving tractor-trailers involved some sort of distracting element. 16% of the time, that distraction was cell phone usage. Before heading out, make sure your route is set on your GPS or preferred device, adjust your music, or radio, and keep your cell phone to the side of your seat and out of sight. If you need to use your phone for calls, maps, or music, invest in a cell phone holder than can handsfree hold your phone within view for safe and easy access. Remember, pulling over is always an option, so do not hesitate to stop to safely answer calls or texts, adjust your GPS, and change music.
- Keep your equipment in tip top shape and always complete an inspection. Follow DOT guidelines for pre-trip and post-trip inspections to ensure essential functions, such as brakes, are in proper working conditions to prevent any malfunction-related accidents.
- Pack for any scenario. Driving cross country can expose you to all sorts of weather conditions, driving terrains, and wildlife. Stock up on water and food in case you are stuck in your cab for a long time. Additionally, bring your emergency road kit on every trip. These kits include road cones, chains, jumper cables, and first aid supplies.
- Driver burnout is a huge risk factor in safety. Plan your trip and routine stops to avoid growing tired and distracted. Exhaustion will compromise a driver’s decision making and even slow reactions in emergency situations.
- Your blind spots play a huge role in your safety and the safety of nearby vehicles. The national Highway Traffic Administration estimates that over 840,000 accidents directly relate to blind spots, such as not checking before changing lanes. Large equipment such as tractor-trailers have larger blind spots than standard cars, thoroughly check mirrors and leave plenty of room when merging.
- Remember the basics. Drivers must undergo specialized training for a reason! The basics of truck operation will keep drivers and others on the road safe. An important basic to remember is keeping at least one second behind the vehicle in front of you for every 10 feet of your vehicle's length (when going under 40mph). This is usually at least 4 seconds. Add an additional second of distance if you are driving over 40mph. This rule is to ensure you will have enough time to slowly brake if traffic ahead of you comes to a stop. Slow down when taking turns, watch and yield to drivers changing lanes, and slow gradually to exit on ramps.
Professional truckers are experts at the art of driving. Operating large equipment such as tractor-trailers requires a cautious hand and attentive eye. Not to mention, drivers must remain alert for hours on long routes. Accidents are an inherent risk when getting on the road, but many are very preventable. Remember your training and the safety tips we’ve mentioned to stay a reliable and efficient driver. Find your next big opportunity in trucking with JobsInTrucks and excel in a safe and rewarding career!