Truck Driving Safety Tips

The professional female truck driver checks the correctness of the truck

Trucks are big and dangerous if they’re not handled correctly, and whether you’ve been a driver for 20 years or a few months, it’s essential to be aware of these truck driving safety tips. These truck driving safety tips could save not only your life but also the lives of others.

Truck Driving Safety Tips

There are many reasons that truck drivers need to be extra safe on the road. Because of the size of the vehicles, an accident can do a lot more harm if trucks are part of an issue than commercial vehicles involved. Truck drivers account for 400,000 of all accidents in the United States annually. If you want to avoid being part of that number, follow these truck driving safety tips.

Plan Ahead

The first of the truck driving safety tips happens before getting into the truck. You should feel confident in knowing your route ahead of time, have an escape route just in case there’s bad weather or traffic, and be aware of all height and weight limitations that may come up.

One way to plan is to purchase a truck driver’s GPS preemptively. While they shouldn’t be your only route planning tool, these units can show helpful information for truckers when traveling new routes.

Check the Weather

One way to plan is to check the weather. It is a guarantee that if you are a full-time truck driver, you will eventually deal with driving in bad weather, including:

  • Freezing rain, which can cause many drivers to lose control of their trucks on the road
  • Heavy snowstorms, which can cause difficulties if you aren’t ready and have tire chains on hand
  • High winds, which are especially dangerous for trucks with lighter loads
  • Extreme heat, which can cause trucks to overheat 

If you’re going to be facing anything less than optimal conditions on the road, which is why you need to be ready ahead of time. Know where you can pull over if the driving conditions are so unsafe that you cannot continue, and have other preparations (for example, extra water during high heat and extra blankets during the winter) to keep your truck and yourself safe.

Leave Plenty of Room Up Front

You should always leave plenty of room in front of your vehicle, even if you end up going a little slower because of it. 

While it can be frustrating going 60 mph when everyone around you is driving at 75, having that buffer zone in front of your truck is crucial to giving yourself room in case something happens ahead of you. The more space you have up front, the more time you’ll have to slow down or stop in case of an accident.

Keep it Slow

In the same vein as the last suggestion, one of the most critical truck driving safety tips is to take it slow.

The only time you should think about driving at top speeds will be in the flyover states in the middle of a clear day. Truck drivers need to take ramps and corners with extreme care to stay in control and upright.

Avoid Regular Lane Changing

Ideally, you will choose a lane and stick to it for as long as possible. The odds of an accident increase each time a vehicle moves into another lane, and considering the size of the truck, it can cause even more damage than a personal vehicle switching lanes. 

Be Aware

While driving, work to consistently keep track of what’s going on around you. For example, check your mirrors every eight to ten seconds, and every 15 seconds, scan ahead on the road to keep up with the traffic and other cars.

Awareness is vital when driving through a work zone, which can cause many hazards. Be checking for changing traffic patterns, stay alert to vehicles entering your blind spots, and use the appropriate signals if you’re forced to change lanes or stop suddenly.

Don’t Be A Distracted Driver

This is one of the most important truck driving safety tips. Human error accounts for 94% of all traffic accidents. This means that a traffic incident is almost always caused by a driver either not paying attention or not following safety laws. 

Remember that if a distracted truck driver takes their eyes off the road for just ten seconds while driving at 55 miles per hour, they are driving the length of two football fields without looking. This is also how long trucks need to stop safely. For example, if a car in front of a driver stops suddenly and that driver is using their phone, even for just a moment, they are compromising the safety of themselves and everyone around them. 

There are many distractions on the road. Some of these might be physical; if you are not feeling well, are tired, or use over-the-counter medications, you will likely be distracted, and your driving may suffer.

Other distractions include items or tools that cause you to lose focus for even a minute. For example, eating, drinking, and checking maps should all be done when pulled over. However, one of the worst driving distractions is texting. It is illegal to text and drive, and getting caught can mean driver disqualification and other serious penalties.

Take Regular Breaks

One way to preemptively avoid distracted driving is to take regular breaks. For example, pull off when you need to eat or drink or stretch your legs to stay alert.

Check Your Truck

This isn’t just one of the truck driving safety tips – this is also a requirement for all truck drivers. Make sure before you start driving; you complete your pre-trip inspection sheet to ensure your vehicle is safe.

Truck Driving Safety Tips with TDI

At TDI, our faculty comprises former drivers from across the country. This means they are full of applicable real-world truck driving safety tips for beginners. Contact us today to learn more about joining TDI and starting an exciting new career.

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