Defensive Truck Driving
In the United States, the trucking industry is one of the most crucial parts of everyday life. Being a truck driver is one of the riskiest jobs in the United States today. Over 100,000 injuries and 300,000 accidents were reported in 2012. At the end of the day, the goal as a driver is to deliver the load safely and with no accidents.
Defensive driving plays a huge role in making sure you, as the driver, and the load arrive at the destination safely. Defensive driving also teaches drivers safety while on the road. A defensive driver also understands the potential hazards that occur on the road and how to handle those situations when they arise. You must also know how to handle traffic, dangerous road and weather conditions, and wildlife while operating a large truck with heavy or large cargo.
Defensive driving does not happen overnight. Instead, it takes years of practice on the road and learning different tips and techniques. Below, we have listed a few driving techniques for truck drivers.
Defensive Driving Safety Tips
- Vehicle inspections – as required by law, it is important to have vehicle inspections done often to keep your truck safe on the roadway
- Safe distances – Large trucks require longer distances to stop safely. Ensure you keep a longer distance between you and the car in front 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 how you would like to be treated on the road. 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 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 help prevent you from being passed on both sides.
A few other reminders for a safe trip is to watch for blind spots. Others who have not ridden in or driven a large truck do not realize the blind spots a truck driver encounters. Always reduce speed when traveling through work zones and through curves. Use your best judgment and slow down more if the curve seems dangerous. Many rollover accidents occur when traveling at a higher speed around curves.
Keep in mind that the weather is forever changing. Be cautious about weather conditions during your travel time. About 25% of trucking accidents occur because of inclement weather. Truck drivers should reduce their speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by 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 first. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep before getting out on the road each day. Be sure to eat right, exercise, and take quality time at home. Taking care of yourself is beneficial in ensuring you have a safe trip to your destination and then back home.
To become a defensive driver, defensive driving is taught in most CDL schools. Anyone can get lax over time. It is good to refresh your memory often and read up on these tips. Defensive driving and being aware of the road-changing conditions can help ensure a safe trip for everyone on the road.