It's easy to get comfortable doing something that you do every single day. For many, with comfort comes doubt that anything can go wrong. When it comes to driving, however, there is always risk. The United States Department of Transportation estimates that over 500,000 truck accidents occur each year. By following three main defensive driving techniques, you can avoid being one of them.
Follow the rules of the road
This point may seem obvious, but sometimes drivers will slack on the basics of driving simply because they do it so much. But the rules are in place for a reason – to keep drivers safe. For truck drivers, they are arguably even more important as you are navigating a large vehicle with higher risk.
Don't forget to always use your signal when turning and changing lanes, and don't forget to check your blind spots.
Maintain a safe speed and keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you. With that in mind, you'll also want to be aware of long stopping distances. Slamming on the brakes in a truck can be catastrophic. And specifically for trucks, make sure to make wide turns very carefully. Too sharp of a turn can flip your vehicle, causing major damage to everything and everyone in the vicinity.
Maintain your vehicle
This is another simple, but vital, rule when it comes to defensive driving. Movinglabor.com predicts fully loaded box trucks can weigh 26,000 pounds. When you're moving that kind of weight, especially at high speeds, everything is more dangerous. If an old tire blows out, or something under the hood gives out, it can be dangerous for everyone and everything around. Letting the maintenance of your truck slide is simply not worth it. Your company should have a regular maintenance schedule, and you should learn how to check up on your truck yourself regularly along the ride. If something seems off, don't hesitate to pull over and check it out before it's too late.
Distracted driving can be deadly. Before embarking on your trip behind the wheel, be as prepared as possible with routes, directions, and anything you need to be comfortable. Distracted driving isn't only about using your smartphone–though you certainly shouldn't be using it–but it's also about fumbling with the radio, a map or directions, and anything else that takes your eyes off the road, even for a moment. Have your playlist queued up, your directions inputted, and the phone on Do Not Disturb mode.
As mentioned, there is always risk when it comes to driving. There is only so much you can control when you're on the road. But what you can control, you should. You can control the way in which you operate the vehicle, the way you take care of the vehicle, and what you're doing while you're behind the wheel. Keep these tips in mind as you navigate the world of truck driving.
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