Truck driving around cities and highways has its own set of challenges compared to driving around in cars. Light duty and commercial vehicles accounted for about 22,000 accidents in 2014 according to Transport Canada so it is important to take all the necessary precautions when operating light or heavy duty trucks whether for work or leisure. Here are some tips to improve driver safety.
Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Truck
Before you even start the vehicle, you can implement important safety precautions to minimize the risk of accidents. Periodically check fluid levels for fuel, brakes, motor oil, coolant, and power steering as well as the battery charge and windshield washer. Interior inspections, which include the brakes, clutch, mirrors, horn, gauges, steering, seat belts, and heater, should not be overlooked. Exterior scrutiny of the front and rear lights, signal lamps, hydraulic lines, reflectors, tires and tire pressure, tow joints, and the body and glass of the truck itself should also be done. Make sure that there is a functional fire extinguisher available along with the emergency triangle, first aid kit, and tools for tire replacement. Did you know that you can save on maintenance costs when you lease rather than own your work trucks?
Truck driving can be a mentally and physically demanding occupation so maintaining good health is key to safe driving. A tired driver will not be as reactive on the road as a well-rested one and can spell the difference between avoiding an accident and becoming the cause of one. Be aware that lack of sleep the night before can be a cause of poor focus on the road. Distracted driving is just as dangerous as the driver is unable to concentrate on the road because of exhaustion or calling or texting while driving. If you are feeling tired, pull over and take a quick nap. Don’t try to fight exhaustion. The consequences of falling asleep on the road are a lot worse than arriving late. Lifestyle changes and schedule adjustments may be needed to ensure optimum performance.
Be Aware of Blind Spots Around the Truck
Because of their size, trucks have larger blind spots or “no zones” compared to smaller cars. These spots may either be to the side in front of the cab, behind the side mirrors, or right behind the truck. A lot of car drivers are usually not aware of these truck limitations that need to be taken into consideration when driving trucks. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the truck driver to navigate through traffic with more care than the average car driver to avoid mishap.
Alert Other Drivers of Your Intentions
Keep a clear and early signal to notify other drivers of your intent of turning into corners. Always make sure to slow down long before a complete stop is necessary. Other motorists do not realize how long it takes for a truck to come to a full stop, so seeing the brake lights early will help to avoid a collision. Keep changing lanes to a minimum as trucking “no zones” or blind spots are large. Be sure to check mirrors every 7 or 8 seconds. When driving slower than the speed limit due to a heavy load or bad weather always use your flashers. While it’s usually best to follow speed limits, there are times when it is more prudent to drive at a slower speed. Curves, for example, are especially dangerous for semi-trucks. Reduce your speed when approaching big curves to avoid tipping. The speed limits for many curves and ramps are mostly for cars, not trucks, so you may need to go slower than recommended.
Know the Weather and Driving Conditions
Keep tabs on weather and traffic reports so that you will have enough time to prepare for bad driving conditions. It’s recommended to reduce speed by about ⅓ in rainy weather and about ½ in ice or snow (example: if the speed limit is 60 mph, drive 40 mph in rain and 30 mph in ice or snow). This will give you extra time to stop if needed. If you see other trucks pulling to the side, it may be wise for you to do the same.
Long Haul Driving Preparedness
Although long haul trucking entails hours of driving and frustrations run high, keep emotions in check. Do not tailgate. Take sufficient breaks and get out of the truck in order to stay alert. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing as sitting for long periods of time can cut off circulation and cause serious health problems over time. Admit to yourself when you are fatigued. Driving while exhausted can be more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Find out how to improve fuel mileage during long trips.
Do you need work trucks or cars for your business? With a fleet of over 800 vehicles and growing, Thomas Solutions has a wide array of work vehicles for lease or rent. Whether you are in Hamilton, Niagara or anywhere in Southern Ontario for that matter, we would welcome the chance to see if we can help you with your fleet needs. Contact us today.