Truck driving remains one of the most important industries in the United States. Trucks travel across the nation’s highways to deliver the goods we use. In fact, more than 70 percent of goods are transported by large trucks in the United States. The prevalence and importance of trucks on America roads relies on one important thing: driver safety.
Don Logan is a FedEx truck driver and has won a statewide competition in Kansas multiple times that has named him the region's best truck driver. This competition includes a written exam, a visual vehicle inspection, and a difficult driving course completion.
In the past, he's won the twins and three axel competitions came out on top of 400 other drivers for the overall competition in 2012. Having been a truck driver for over 25 years, he has driven an average of 100,000 miles per year and has over 2 million miles of being accident-free.
While we can’t provide the insight only experience behind the wheel provides, we’re proud to share these driving tips from a driver with the mileage and experience that Don has.
Tips for Being a Safe Truck Driver
Truck drivers always need to keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front of them. Besides the fact that tailgating is illegal, trucks need more room to allow the brakes to stop the vehicle effectively and prevent rear-end accidents. It is not worth the risk to drive too close to another car, and it won’t help you get to your destination any faster. In fact, drivers of large trucks should leave more following space to help avoid a truck accident. The same goes for passenger vehicles! Following a large truck too closely limits your own visibility and can result in a serious accident if the truck suddenly stops in response to traffic flow up ahead. Stay safe and keep your distance.
Focus on the Road.
There are a lot of distractions for drivers, whether that it is a cell phone, the GPS, the radio, or other people in the truck, there is no excuse. Do whatever you need to do in order to ensure that your eyes stay clear and focused on the road. According to studies, if you look down or away from the road for just 5 seconds (average time for reading / sending a text), you will travel the length of a football field when going just 55 mph. That is an entire football field’s worth of open road that you didn’t pay attention to! Cars may be getting into your lane, traffic may be slowing down, and any number of other obstacles may occur in that small window of time.
Don’t Neglect Rest
It is very common for long-distance commercial drivers to go long hours when traveling to get to their destination, but if they are lacking in sleep it can be very hazardous not only to their safety. More than that, it can put countless other drivers on the road in danger. Studies show that a sleep deprived driver is just as bad, if not worse, than a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drowsy driving causes about 100,000 crashes each year.
Sleeping is a requirement for our bodies, so make sure you don’t go without it—whether you drive for a profession or are simply getting from one place to the next. If you are a commercial truck drivers, be diligent in sticking to the regulations on hours-of-service to prevent violations and serious accidents!
Sometimes, over-eager and negligent employers can place unrealistic expectations on truck drivers that encourage them to drive for too long without rest. Remember, as a truck driver you have a right to tell your company that they are making unsafe demands! The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a system for reporting unsafe companies and helping drivers.
Use Your Signals
Even though drivers are required by law to use a turn signal before switching lanes, it is very easy to forget—especially for inexperienced drivers. Don’t let this happen to you. As a truck driver you need a lot more space on the road and if you forget to signal, the other cars nearby may not be able to prepare themselves to let a large vehicle in front of them.
This rule applies to non-commercial drivers as well. Trucks rely on the notification of other vehicles that plan to pass them so that they can break or slow down if necessary. All drivers share the road, so practice using your signals, it is simple and may prevent accidents from happening.
Always Leave Room for Big Trucks
When on the road, make sure to always leave room for big rigs and other commercial trucks. It is important to remember that they need extra space for turns and slowing down. Since trucks make wider turns and take longer to brake, it is imperative that you leave the extra room than you need. If you are a truck driver, keep this in mind and always try to give yourself a greater following distance if necessary. Trucks have more blind spots than a normal vehicle, making it crucial that drivers be more aware. Passenger vehicles should avoid staying in blind spots—if you can’t see the driver in their mirrors, they can’t see you! If you need to pass a truck, avoid speeding up and passing them then quickly stopping, as this can lead to accidents if a truck doesn’t have time to slow down.
What Happens If Am in an Accident?
Whether you are a commercial truck driver or just a commuter, make sure you follow these helpful tips to avoid getting into a devastating collision. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, Arnold & Itkin is ready to help. We’ve recovered $1+ billion in just the last 5 years and can put our expertise to work for you. Our team can walk you through the investigation process all the way through trial or negotiations with insurance companies.