Especially when you are new to trucking, there are a lot of nuances of the job that go into getting from Point A to Point B successfully — and safely. Driving a big rig is similar to driving any other vehicle in some ways, but in others, it is extremely different. Even with all the right training, it takes time to figure out how to do everything with safety in mind and still get where you need to go on time.
As a consequence, you would be wise to work the following safety tips into your everyday routine so that you never run into dangerous difficulties in your life on the road.
1) Check out your delivery spots on foot
One of the big mistakes inexperienced drivers make is pulling into the parking lot or delivery area for a drop-off and getting themselves into a tight squeeze because they didn't do any scouting, according to Smart Trucking. Especially if you have never been to a delivery location before, it's vital to park the truck and get an eyeful of the area where you will be backing in, so you can properly account for YOUR surroundings and avoid getting stuck. Even if you have been there before, this kind of effort helps because you never know what may have changed since the last time you stopped in.
2) Be even more vigilant at night
There are a lot of reasons why it's more dangerous to drive a tractor trailer at night, not least because visibility is greatly reduced, Smart Trucking said. In addition, the moves other drivers make may be less predictable at night, and the odds that you will be able to see a potential hazard more than several hundred feet down the road are low. As such, you can't afford to take your eyes off the road after the sun goes down.
3) Always drive defensively
Of course, the need for more caution behind the wheel at night does not mean you can drive more aggressively during the day, according to Samsara. Indeed, you should always drive defensively, and that means avoiding lane changes until you absolutely need to, driving in such a way that you never have to floor the gas or jam on the brakes. Take it easy out there and remember that "slow and steady" should be your guiding principle even when you're up against a tight deadline.
4) Understand your blind spots
Finally, it's important for new truckers to realize just how much of the area around their big rigs isn't going to be immediately visible to them as they check their mirrors, according to Keep Truckin'. Make no mistake: Blind spots take some getting used to, but if you're going to be a safe driver, you have to really get used to what they are, no matter the size of vehicle you're driving. Put another way, you can never account for what other drivers are going to do, but you have to be able read and react to whatever is happening on the road near you.
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