Vehicle accidents are never ideal. Accidents involving more oversized vehicles like transport trucks are even less ideal. Given how dangerous a semi-truck can be, most truck drivers are well educated on the rules of the road and are excellent drivers. This being said, even the briefest lapse in focused attention can have disastrous results. The following will explore some critical precautions that truck drivers and passengers can take to make sure that everyone on the road stays safe.
1. Keep On Top Of Maintenance
Given the great distances that semi-trucks travel, these vehicles need even more attention given to their maintenance. Equipment failure like blown-out tires or weak or faulty braking systems can do serious harm. Beyond regular check-ups with a mechanic, truck drivers should be ready to listen and respond to their vehicles. Unusual noises or motions or any changes in how responsive the steering system is should never be ignored. Vehicles should always be inspected regularly to make sure that mirrors, lights, and other features are functioning optimally. Read more here. If any signs like the above are ignored, and an accident occurs, the driver can be found at fault for negligent driving.
2. Watch Your Speed
Similar to maintenance, paying attention to driving speed can reduce the risk of truck accidents. Bigger trucks are not designed to travel as quickly as smaller vehicles. Once a driver surpasses 75 mph, the likelihood of tires blowing out increases dramatically. When driving a semi-truck, a driver should always be paying attention to their vehicle. If you’ve been with the same truck for a while, you likely know when you’re pushing it a little too hard. Trust your instincts in this regard.
3. Properly Load All Cargo
We’ve all seen that movie, the one where the logs roll off the truck onto the highway, and most of us still get nervous driving near trucks transporting logs for that reason. All cargo can be dangerous if it isn’t loaded and secured properly. Proper loading is going to look different depending on what you are transporting, but if, for any reason, you feel unsure of how to secure things correctly, ask for help when the cargo is being loaded. Every type of cargo has its own specific regulations regarding anchor points and tie-down points. Beyond this, these regulations sometimes vary from state to state. This means it is important to be aware of the rules not only where you’re leaving from but also in each state you pass through and the state you are going to be unloading in. Again, if you are unsure about these regulations, ask for help.
4. Address Unrealistic Expectations From Management
If you are a truck driver, you have probably encountered this problem before. Schedules for drivers can seem insane at times, and many people feel pressured to meet unrealistic deadlines in order to keep their jobs. You should know that if an accident occurs because you skimped on sleep or were rushing to get a delivery where it needs to be quick enough, you can still be found at fault.
It can be hard, but expressing to management that you don’t think what they’ve laid out is possible is important for everyone’s safety, as well as the safety of the cargo you’re transporting. It is always within your legal right to refuse work because it feels unsafe. This includes not being given enough time to sleep on longer trips. This includes feeling urged to rush transportation.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Because of the unrealistic expectations mentioned above, many truck drivers are used to driving without proper sleep. Studies have found that being awake for 18 hours straight has the equivalent effect on your reaction time and alertness as having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. That’s right. Driving while utterly exhausted has a similar effect as driving while intoxicated. When we’re tired, we respond more slowly to things, we notice fewer details, and we make poorer decisions.
6. Don’t Be Intoxicated
Driving while intoxicated is a recipe for disaster. The most obvious intoxicants are alcohol and marijuana, but there are several others that drivers need to be cautious of. Drugs that keep people awake like cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines can also intoxicate drivers and make them less likely to drive safely and intelligently.
Beyond this, many prescription medications or over the counter medicines (like cold medicine, for example) can have a serious impact on our ability to drive our best. Always read the packaging instructions before taking any medication while driving. If drowsiness is a potential side effect or if there is any form of warning about operating heavy machinery or driving, you need to make other arrangements.
The above six considerations are only a few of the things that truck drivers or passengers need to be paying special attention to. Every form of cargo and the specific route has its own elements that need to be thought of and prepared for.