As a commercial truck driver, you are responsible for operating your rig safely and accurately. Whether you are a new driver or have driven a semi truck for decades, you can always benefit from equipment and accessories that will make you a safer, more efficient driver and avoid preventable accidents. Many drivers are surprised to learn that their commercial truck mirrors are actually the most valuable tool in their equipment arsenal. Below are six simple ways to use your semi truck mirrors to improve your driving.
Start with a clean slate
The path to driving safety and accuracy begins with squeaky clean mirrors. While you might be tempted to grab a bottle of multipurpose cleaner from under your sink, it is better to apply glass cleaner to your mirrors to avoid streaks and smudges.
Use an actual glass cleaner on your car's mirrors, windshield, windows and rear glass. Multipurpose cleaners often create suds, which aren't necessary and can leave streaks and smudges behind. Also, avoid products that contain ammonia, as it can cause drying and other problems. Here are some other tips to make sure that dusty, grimy mirrors will never cloud your visibility:
- Find a cool spot to clean your mirrors instead of cleaning them in the blazing sun. This will help prevent the cleaner from evaporating.
- Apply the cleaner to a lint-free cloth rather than applying the cleaner directly to your mirrors. This will help prevent the cleaner from running.
- Keep a small can of defroster within easy reach in your truck to help keep your mirrors clear when the temperature dips below freezing.
adjust your mirrors
A squeaky clean, cutting-edge semi-truck mirror is worthless if you do not properly adjust it. Make it a habit to check your mirrors and adjust them accordingly before each and every trucking job. You should have two key goals in mind when adjusting your mirrors.
First, strive to maximize the amount of visual space. And second, try to minimize your blind spots. Finally, remember that mirrors are prone to shifting, so you may have to adjust them more frequently depending upon your driving conditions.
Know your blind spots
Every driver on the road should be keenly aware of the blind spots around their vehicles. But knowing your blind spots is especially important if you drive a semi. There are several blind spots or "no zones" for truck drivers:
- In front: Due to sitting higher than drivers of other vehicles, it can be difficult to see vehicles directly in front of you.
- The right side: Truck drivers have a large blind spot behind their cabs on the right hand side.
- The left side: Another common blind spot is behind the truck cab on the left hand side.
- On the back side of your truck: Because truck cabs tend to lack rear-view mirrors, drivers are unable to see if vehicles are following too closely.
Use mirrors to reduce your blind spots
Once you are aware of your blind spots, you can strategically position your mirrors to reduce or minimize them. Start by positioning two mirrors on the right and left-hand sides of your hood. Adding multiple side mirrors can also help reduce blind spots in the lanes on either side of your truck. By strategically adding more mirrors, you will increase your awareness of the driving activity around you.
Use your mirrors When turning
One of the single best uses for your semi truck mirrors is to monitor your trailer while you are turning. Keeping a close eye on your trailer is particularly important if you are making a sharp turn, as your trailer may potentially collide with medians, signs, and other vehicles. And remember to monitor your trailer throughout the entire turn instead of turning your full attention to other roadway activities.
Give your mirrors a helping hand
Mirrors can go a long way toward helping you become a safer, more accurate semi-truck driver. However, mirrors alone will not guarantee a safe ride for you and the vehicles around you. It is ultimately up to you as a driver to remain vigilant and take all necessary precautions to drive safely and respect your fellow motorists. Here are some ways you can become a more vigilant driver:
- Always remain alert: Driving when you are tired or distracted will interfere with the quality of your driving.
- Install feedback devices: Back-up sensors, audible alarms, and other cutting-edge devices are designed to prevent mistakes before they occur.
- Use signage: Some truck drivers install warning signage on their tractors to warn other motorists to steer clear of their blind spots.
The Bottom Line on Using Semi-Truck Mirrors
As outlined above, having plenty of clean, strategically placed semi-truck mirrors can improve your safety and accuracy as a driver. The single best way to remain abreast of the latest advances in mirrors and other semi-truck equipment is to reach out to an experienced leader in the trucking industry.