Defensive Truck Driving
In the United States, the trucking industry is one of the most crucial parts of everyday life. It is also one of the riskiest jobs in the united states today. Over 100,000 injuries and 300,000 accidents were reported in 2012 alone. At the end of the day, the goal is to deliver the load safely, with no accidents. Defensive driving plays a huge role in making sure the driver and the load arrive to their destination safely. Defensive driving teaches drivers safety while on the road. A defensive driver understands the potential hazards along the roadway, and how to handle those situations if and when they arise. Drivers must be able to handle traffic, dangerous road and weather conditions, and wildlife all while operating large rigs with heavy or large cargo.
Defensive Driving Safety Tips
- Vehicle inspections – as required by law it is crucial to do vehicle inspections often to keep the truck safe on the roadway
- Safe distances – Large trucks require longer distances to stop safely. Make sure to keep a longer distance between you and the car in front of you to ensure safe braking. The distance should be even longer in severe weather.
- Be patient – The more patient and understanding you are that situations are going to arise that are out of your control the safer the ride will be.
- Be courteous – Treat other drivers the way you would like to be treated on the roadway. Common courtesy is the best policy.
- Turn signals – Turn signals should be used always. Especially while changing lanes on a highway. Make sure to give other of drivers plenty of warning by using your turn signal.
- Center lane driving – Make sure to only use the center lane or right lane for passing. Stay in the left lane if you are going the speed limit or below. This will prevent you from being passed on both sides.
A few other reminders for a safe trip is to remember to watch for blind spots, other drivers that have not rode in or drove a large truck do not realize the blind spots truck drivers encounter. Use caution when changing lanes and use safe distances between vehicles. Always reduce speed when going through work zones and through curves. The speed limits are curves are for all vehicles not just trucks. Use your best judgment and slow down even more if the curve seems dangerous. Most rollover accidents occur when trucks take a curve at a higher rate of speed then suggested. Be cautious of changing weather conditions. 25% of trucking accidents are caused by inclement weather. Drivers should cut down speed by 1/3 on wet roads and ½ on snowy or icy roads.
One of the most important things we can do as truck drivers is to remember to take care of ourselves. Make sure to get enough sleep before driving each day. Eat right, exercise, and taking quality time at home are all beneficial in making sure you have a safe trip to your destination and back home.
To become a defensive driver, defensive driving is taught in most CDL schools, but anyone can get lax over time. It is a good idea to refresh your memory often on these tips. Defensive driving and being aware of road changing conditions can help ensure a safe trip for all those on the road.