There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States. That number continues to rise as people across the country look for stable, decent-paying work that doesn’t require extensive schooling.
If the benefits of a career in trucking drew you to the profession and you’re just starting out, you’re likely excited to hit the road. Before you you do though, it’s important to brief yourself on trucking safety standards that are integral to the operating of a tractor trailer.
To make getting up to speed on safety standards simple, our team has compiled key tips below for your quick reference!
1. Buckle Up
This tractor trailer safety tip is a no-brainer. Before you hit the road, put on your seat belt. It’s the easiest to substantially increase your odds of living through a bad accident.
If safety isn’t enough of a concern for you to be bothered with putting on a seat belt, maybe money is. Seat belt tickets can be steep and repeat offenders may be fired from their trucking companies for negligence.
2. Never Use Your Phone and Drive
Texting while driving is a big no-no no matter what vehicle you’re operating. That goes double for trucks.
If you rear-end a car because you were fiddling with your phone while driving a regular vehicle, you might smash someone’s rear bumper. If you do the same thing with a tractor trailer, you could crush a family.
If you are caught messing with your phone while driving a company truck, you’ll be let go immediately for liability reasons.
3. Stay in Your Lane
Depending on the state you drive in, there may be a dedicated lane your truck should sit in while traversing the freeway. Stick to that lane to avoid tickets.
On the safety front, lane changes are the most dangerous part of trucking, particularly when you’re pulling a trailer. The less activity you’re partaking in while driving, the lower your odds will be of being involved in a truck accident.
4. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Awareness is a strong line of defense against collisions. That awareness starts with scanning the road in front of you to get a sense of what’s happening about 15 seconds ahead of your rig.
In addition to scanning ahead, occasionally scope out your review mirrors and blind spots, even if you’re not making lane changes.
The more information you have about what’s happening around your vehicle, the better you can react to situations from any angle.
5. Check the Weather
Adverse weather can make trucking much harder. For example, heavy rains bring low visibility, under-reactive breaks, and less predictable cars.
By checking the weather ahead of your run, you can craft plans to make your job easier. Adjustments might include choosing to pull your load overnight as opposed to during the day to reduce your exposure to traffic or waking up earlier to give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
6. Avoid Traffic
Whether the weather is good or bad, the less traffic you have to drive through, the safer you’ll be. We understand that when you have pickup and drop off times during the day and live in densely populated areas, traffic avoidance can be hard.
If its a possibility for you though, prioritize it.
Talking to your supervisor about you wanting to avoid traffic may garner more support from them than you’d think seeing as how less traffic for you means less liability for them. After your discussion, your supervisor might look to set you up with new routes/times to create a win-win situation.
7. Get Your Rest
Truck drivers that manage long haul freight should be aware of their logbook requirements. Logbooks are a means of tracking how many hours you’ve been on the road. These books are subject to review at any time at weigh stations or during pullovers.
If you’re driving on a logbook that has you on the road for too long, you could face fines and termination.
Get your rest to avoid trouble from authority figures and to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. Sleeping while driving happens to millions of people and can be destructive when you’re operating a tractor trailer.
8. Stay Aware of Your Trailer
Your trailer is what causes a lot of the additional safety risks when you’re operating a rig. Stay aware of it while you’re driving to make sure it keeps within its lane and is safely secured while driving.
Looking at trailer safety beyond being on the road, when your trailer is full, be vigilant about where you drive and park. Parking in a bad neighborhood to eat when you have a loaded trailer can put you and your cargo in harm’s way.
Tractor Trailer Safety Is a Lifestyle That Takes Constant Commitment
As you become more experience operating a tractor trailer, complacency will make it so you pay less attention to rudimentary safety standards. Fight against that complacency by forcing yourself to go through safety motions, even when doing so feels tedious.
All it takes is one safety slip up to negatively change your life forever. By stepping into your rig every day and making safety a priority, you lower your chances significantly of hurting yourself and others.
Life is filled with questions that our team is always eager to answer. If you’re still curious about tractor trailers, have trucking accident queries, or would like to know about other career-related topics, check out more of the helpful content on our blog!