As a trucker, safety is Job No. 1, and you need to make sure that you are doing all you can to keep accident risk to a minimum as you navigate the nation's highways and byways. And because June is National Safety Month, it's always a good time to review some of the basics of staying safe on the road.
Those steps go beyond just obeying speed limits and relying on defensive driving (both of which are great ideas!), and include the following:
1) Absolutely no distracted driving
Whether it's talking on the phone, fiddling with the radio, eating or anything else, distracted driving is the biggest mistake a trucker can make, according to America Truck Driving School. Industry data suggests that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and as such, it should be avoided at all times. Instead, keep two hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
2) Know your truck's dimensions down to the inch
There will be many situations when you have to go under overpasses, through tunnels and so on, where there is a clearance height clearly posted, America Truck Driving School said. You should know exactly what yours is and, if it's taller than the posted limit, you need to find an alternate route. In most cases, this won't be something you need to worry about, but particularly in large cities, it may be a serious issue.
3) Stay in your lane unless you absolutely have to change
You can't always account for what other driver are going to do on the road, so it's better to be highly cautious before making any moves of your own, according to 123 Loadboard. That starts with picking a lane and sticking with it unless circumstances arise to force you back out of it. At that point, you should signal your intentions well before you change lanes. That way, all your moves are much more predictable for other drivers.
4) Give yourself plenty of space
Along similar lines, because a big rig is so difficult to maneuver in tight situations, you should try to back off from other vehicles as much as is possible, 123 Loadboard added. That way, if you do have to make an unexpected or sudden move, your risk of getting into an accident with an unaware fellow motorist is minimized.
5) Stop regularly
A trucker's job can be mentally and physically tiring, so it's a good idea to stop every 100 or 200 miles to get out, stretch your legs and take a minute to refresh, 123 Loadboard further advised. That way, you know you'll be ready to tackle the next few hundred miles, renewed and with a lot of confidence.
6) Only use cruise control when conditions are ideal
Truckers drive through all kinds of weather, but you should only turn on cruise control when it's safe to do so, according to Bison Transport. That means plenty of visibility, dry roads and minimal traffic.
7) Climb up and down safely
Finally, your safety doesn't end when you park your vehicle, Bison Transport cautioned. You should also make sure you are climbing in and out of it safely, ensuring you keep three points of contact — that is, two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand — with the truck when you do so.
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