Tips for Safe Truck Driving
At 2nd-to-None Fleet Service, we appreciate the important role truck drivers and owner-operators play in sustaining the New Mexico economy. We also know that trucking is a demanding occupation—financially, physically, and emotionally. We want you to be as safe and comfortable on the road as possible. Here are some tips for avoiding accidents and injuries, and ultimately enjoying a successful career.
- Stay attentive. Do not allow anything or anyone to distract you while you’re driving. If driving becomes difficult for any reason (inclement weather, rough road conditions, family emergency…) slow down or stop if necessary. A safe driver maintains full awareness of his surroundings, and concentrates on the road.
- Be extra attentive when turning. A truck’s weight, length, and height make it nearly impossible for truck drivers to maneuver tight turns like regular vehicles. But drivers of smaller vehicles don’t always give you the room you need to make a turn. Signal well before starting a turn, and make sure you have the distance necessary to safely complete the turn.
- Be extra attentive when backing. Before backing, walk to the rear of your truck and look all around for obstructions. Look all the way to the point you plan to stop—there could be something in your path—and walk to that point. Then turn around and visualize the backing maneuver. Don’t just rely on spotters. You are the sole person responsible for backing your truck safely.
- Park smartly. Whenever possible, back your trailer against a wall or fence to block easy access to your trailer doors. Something this simple can prevent theft, and if you set your trailer brake and put tension on the fifth wheel pin, a thief can’t pull the fifth wheel release.
- Check your tires before getting back on the road. Pay special attention to your tires before starting a job, whether you’re driving a long distance or making a short trip. When tread separates from a tire, it creates a dangerous road hazard, and could cause an accident.
- Stay in one lane. It’s in your best interest to stay in one lane of travel until you come to a stop. Even if you encounter an incident—such as slowed traffic, getting cut off by another driver, or being struck by an animal—you will likely do less harm to yourself and others and create less property damage if you stay in a single lane of travel.
- Check and recheck your blind spots. Many motorists are unaware of where your blind spots are located, and as a result, unintentionally put themselves in harm’s way. Make sure to check and recheck your blind spots before attempting any maneuver.
- Don’t let other drivers get under your skin. Motorists with whom you share the road often drive unpredictably—and sometimes downright irresponsibly. Their poor driving may display ignorance of your truck’s limitations, or simply their own disregard for safety. Recognize and accept their inexperience and use extra care. Don’t let yourself get angry.
- Make sure your cargo is secured properly. Improperly secured cargo can cause your truck to be unstable, and could result in falling debris that may injure you or any people or vehicles around you.
- Follow hours-of-service rules. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have many hours-of-service regulations to help prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. Do not exceed these limits to try to make more money or meet delivery deadlines. It’s not worth it.