Truck drivers hold an immense responsibility on the road due to the sheer size and power of the vehicles they drive. While it’s in the best interest of all motorists to drive with awareness, truck drivers should pay particular attention to their driving habits.
Not only this, but truck drivers generally spend a far greater amount of time on the road, driving for multiple hours on end. This puts them at an even greater risk of truck accidents.
According to research from the FMCSA, 57 percent of fatal accidents on America’s rural roads involve large trucks. Here’s how truck drivers can avoid becoming a part of these statistics.
1. Be Aware of Your Blind Spots
Due to the size and length of large commercial trucks, drivers have to deal with a few more blind spots. This means that they physically cannot see other motorists according to certain areas along the truck trailer.
As a responsible truck driver, it’s important to be aware of what these blind spots are so you can keep them in mind when changing lanes.
Some of them include:
- A blind spot at the middle point of the trailer, on the driver’s side
- Approximately 20-feet in front of the truck
- Approximately 30-feet behind the truck
- Two lanes over on the right-hand side of the truck
A good rule-of-thumb to keep in mind is this: if you cannot clearly see a car behind or next to you, but know they could be there, don’t switch lanes!
If you’re ever involved in a collision with another vehicle, here are the steps to take after a truck accident.
2. Always Pass Other Vehicles With Caution
The large size and power of a truck means that it cannot stop quickly. This is why it’s always wise to exercise major caution when passing or overtaking other vehicles.
You’ll need time to adjust your speed, and should remember these key tips:
- Don’t ever overtake a vehicle on an uphill or downhill
- Always approach a car you plan to overtake from the left-hand side
- Maintain your speed while passing and always use proper signals
- Avoid merging back into the lane until you can clearly see the car you just passed in your mirrors
When passing another truck, it’s even more important to exercise caution. You’ll need a little more power and patience for this.
If another truck is trying to overtake you, stay on the right, stick to your regular speed or slow down a little to allow them enough space to pass.
3. Be Crystal Clear About Your Signals
Signals are extremely important and useful for truck drivers. So make the most of them in order to be crystal clear about your intentions when driving.
Before you pass a vehicle, change lanes, or turn, use your signals well ahead of time to let other motorists know what you are doing. This way, they can anticipate your actions and make room for you to do so.
Use your signals sooner or earlier than you think is necessary, giving other drivers enough notice.
4. Allow Yourself Plenty of Space
Truck drivers are never alone on the road. This means that one of the biggest risks truck drivers face is each other. That’s why it’s imperative that you give yourself and other truck drivers ample space between each other while out on the road.
This minimizes your risk of being too close to another truck in times of tire blowouts, sudden braking, and high winds which can cause truck rollovers.
Some other important tips include leaving enough travel space/distance between yourself and another driver — at least 4-5 seconds.
Allow for plenty of space when turning, for both yourself and other truck drivers. You may need to take up two lanes to make a wide turn.
Never pass a truck on the right if they are also turning right. This is a no-brainer — you just won’t fit in-between the truck and the curb or other motorists.
5. Be Mindful of How You Use Your Brights
Ever been blinded by another motorist’s brights while driving at night? You want to be mindful of the same thing with other truck drivers and motorists.
A truck’s side mirrors are large enough to catch plenty of glare and reflection, especially at night. Be mindful of using your bright lights only when you really need to if driving behind other trucks.
If you no longer need to use your brights, switch them off, or lower them when passing oncoming trucks and vehicles, or overtaking other drivers.
6. Merge with Caution
As previously mentioned, it is very difficult to stop a truck on a whim, i.e. at speed. So when it comes to merging, you want to do so slowly and with caution.
Avoid merging in front of other trucks when traffic is slowing to a stop. It may be difficult for the rear truck to slow down enough and allow space for you.
If you need to merge into another lane, use your signal well ahead of time and try not to squeeze into a gap. Allow yourself an ample amount of space before you can eventually merge into traffic.
7. Distracted Driving Is a Major No-No
Whether you’re a truck driver or a regular motorist, distracted driving can have fatal, catastrophic consequences. You want to make sure that the road has your full attention at all times.
Avoid distractions with food, drink, cellphones, and even noisy passengers or music. The same goes for fatigue. If you are distracted by how tired you are, this is a glaring sign you need to stop, take a break, and rest.
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There have been one too many truck accidents over the past few decades as a result of negligent, distracted driving. These could have been easily avoided with these top truck driving tips.
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