Whether you’re new to driving a truck or have been operating a commercial 18-wheeler for years, you’re certainly aware that safety is paramount on the road. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, causing insane pile-ups, countless injuries, and millions of dollars in damages. Now, as a well-reasoned truck operator, it’s up to you to minimize those risks as much as possible by practicing defensive driving. Here are some road safety tips to observe when handling a massive vehicle.
Putting your seatbelt on should be an instinctive reflex whenever you get aboard your truck. This mechanism is your first line of defense in the event of a crash, keeping you safely grounded in your seat. Failing to buckle up can result in serious injuries, being flung around the compartment, or worse, being violently ejected outside. Not to mention, seat belts are a legal obligation.
Keep It Cool
The road is a wild terrain that calls for thick skin. As you’re driving, chances are you’ll run into speeders, lane cutters, aggressive honkers, and more. Upon these unwanted encounters, keep your composure and do not engage in any kind of reckless behavior (swerving, tailgating, chasing); this might endanger other commuters and wreak havoc. Instead, de-escalate the situation by keeping a distance between yourself and road ragers.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal accidents in the United States. Whether it’s answering a call, texting, fiddling with the navigation or snacking, anything that takes your attention off the road, albeit temporarily, can cause major accidents. Likewise, being the victim of a distracted driver can also put your physical integrity at risk, in which case the Missouri-based attorneys at stllawhelp.com/personal-injury/truck-accidents recommend finding the best personal injury lawyer to represent you if you’ve suffered related injuries. They’ll be your best chance of receiving compensation following any potential road ordeals.
Mind Those Blind Spots
Operating such a large and off-the-ground vehicle can be challenging, in that there are many areas you can’t directly see (front, rear, laterals). Blind spots are the culprits in nearly 800,000 accidents involving trucks every year, according to the NHTSA. To compensate for this lack of visibility, always make sure to look over your shoulder or peak out the window when switching lanes or merging.
Maintain Safe Braking Distances
Evidently, coming to a full stop aboard a massive trailer truck takes significantly longer than the average sedan. As such, it’s important that you always keep a fair stopping distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead. This will prevent hard collisions and allow you to brake in time in case something pops up ahead out of the blue (merging car, crossing animal, falling tree, etc.).
Respect Speed Limits
While it might be tempting to push down on that gas pedal, speeding with a truck is never a wise move. Going over speed limitations not only exposes you to hefty fines, but it can also provoke disastrous crashes and endanger other commuters. So, pay attention to designated truck speed limits and maintain a safe, reasonable pace on the road.
Watch the Weather
Heavy rain, snow, or winds are some of a truck driver’s worst enemies. Whenever you have no choice but to get behind the wheel when the weather’s less than desirable, always exercise the utmost caution. Be mindful of your environment and other vehicles around you. Take it slow and turn on your warning lights when it’s excessively foggy. Still, it’s best to pull at a truck stop and wait for the storm to pass.
Take Frequent Breaks
Speaking of which, remember to pause every once in a while. Whether you need to grab a bite, use the restroom, stretch, or get some shut-eye, periodic breaks are important to replenish your energy level and not risk operating your truck while feeling drowsy or tired. This, needless to say, can have serious consequences for both you and other commuters.
Keep Your Vehicle in Good Condition
Last but not least, optimal vehicle maintenance is a given. No matter the destination or the duration of your trip, make sure that you check and double-check your engine, hydraulics, safety devices, and the like. Care well for your truck, and it will take care of you!
In the end, handling a truck is no easy affair. Between distractions, poor weather, and reckless drivers, a lot can come in the way of a smooth and peaceful journey. Hopefully, this guide will have provided some useful insights on which attitudes, practices, and habits to adopt for optimal safety on the road. Have a safe trip!