When you hit the road in your truck, safety should be your top concern. Not only will it help you keep yourself healthy and your truck in good shape, but it will also help you avoid delays. An accident or a traffic citation could put you seriously behind schedule and potentially cause issues with your CDL license. These truck driving tips will help you stay safe on the road and always on time.
Know the Road Ahead
Driving in new areas can cause you to make mistakes. However, you can do a little research to know what is ahead of you. For example, you can check out key intersections on Google Maps or a similar tool before you arrive.
Have a Backup Plan
On the topic of research, always have a backup plan prepared in case of inclement weather, traffic jams or other issues that cause delays. When you are planning your trip, do a little reconnaissance for alternative routes. Have a plan that can help you be ready if something gets thrown off. You can’t plan for every possible issue, however, having a few backup ideas in mind can help you be more prepared for difficulties along the way.
Stay in Your Lane (When Possible)
When you are an experienced driver, you may feel like you can handle your rig with no problems. Unfortunately, you aren’t the only vehicle on the road. It only takes a single foolish driver making a mistake when you change lanes to ruin your day. Whenever you change lanes, you are taking a risk that someone else might make a mistake. Try to stay in your lane when feasible.
Watch Your Blind Spots
Keep an eye on your blind spots as you are driving. This is especially important if you are making a turn or changing lane. However, you should try to stay aware of vehicles in your blind spots at all times. Keep track of any vehicles in these “no-go zones:”
- Right behind the truck
- Immediately behind the mirrors
- At the side of the front of the cab
Try to maneuver so that vehicles won’t be in these spots. Many motorists don’t know how dangerous driving too close to semi-trucks can be.
Of all the driving tips for truckers, this may be the most important. Learn how to manage your energy and stay alert. Additionally, know when you are at your limits and need a break. These are some techniques you can use:
- Try to drive relaxed. If you are tense or angry while driving, you will get tired sooner.
- Manage the cab temperature. Warm air will make you feel drowsy.
- Be careful with your caffeine intake. A coffee can help you stay awake but six of them will make you crash.
Keep Your Truck Well-Maintained
Your vehicle has a lot of features that help keep it safe. Make sure to keep it in good working order and have it repaired whenever necessary. Keeping on top of oil, tire and brake pad changes can also help you stay safe and on schedule.
Keep it Slow
There is a lot of pressure in the driving business to be fast and timely. However, rushing can actually end up slowing you down if you end up with a ticket or getting in an accident. Plan enough time for each leg of your trip and maintain a measured pace. Taking a turn too quickly or trying to slam on the brakes could have serious consequences.
Proper cargo loading is essential to safe and efficient driving. If you have an open trailer, avoid stacking cargo too high as this will increase drag. Always make sure cargo is thoroughly secured so it will not move when you are driving. Additionally, try to keep the cargo spread out evenly. Too much weight on one side could cause you to lose control.
Always Leave Room
Maintain a proper following distance and try to avoid driving with too many vehicles around you. Imagine that there is a cushion around your truck. You want to avoid anyone being inside that cushion whenever possible.
The following distance is especially important to keep in mind. Imagine that the vehicle in front of you did an emergency stop. Do you have enough room to react and stop yourself? Semi-trucks take a lot of road to slow down.
Be Wary of Weather
The weather can significantly change the driving conditions. These are only amplified by the weight of a fully loaded big rig. With up to 80,000 pounds of weight to stop, you can’t take rain or snow lightly.
Inclement weather is a factor in about a quarter of all vehicle accidents. In other words, if those drivers were more careful about the weather, the number of accidents would drop significantly.
Simply be mindful of when the road is slippery. You will need even more following distance between your truck and the vehicle in front. Additionally, look up weather patterns before you head out on a route. A little information in advance can make a big difference.
When you are out on the road, keep these truck driving tips in mind. They could help you keep yourself and others safe. All it takes is a little thoughtfulness and preparation to ensure timeliness and safety.