by Pride Transport | Oct 23, 2023
Truck drivers perform a significant service for the U.S. economy, making it possible to transport goods and materials locally, statewide, and across the nation every day. However, because the vehicles driven are so large and are carrying so many different items (some of which are hazardous), there is a risk of getting into accidents.
As of the last reported data from 2021, there were 5,700 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in the United States that year. That represented an 18% increase from the year before and a shocking 49% increase since 2011. Of course, fatal crashes aren’t the only type, and large trucks were also involved in many injury-causing collisions (117,300).
Fortunately, drivers like yourself can take steps to reduce the number of large truck crashes in the United States by performing pre-trip inspections, learning to drive defensively, managing fatigue, being aware of the environment around you, avoiding distractions, and staying updated on all the latest safety regulations.
Six Ways to Avoid Accidents on the Road
To reduce the risk of getting into accidents, you need to take precautions from the time you’re getting ready to get into your vehicle until you get back home safely. Here’s what you need to do to be a safer driver.
Prioritize Pre-Trip Inspections
The first step is to ensure you prioritize pre-trip inspections. Pre-trip inspections help identify any areas of damage or concern that may need to be addressed before you go out on the road. Seeing that a light is out now prevents you from driving with a headlight out later, just like noticing a leak now could prevent a collision due to a loss of steering fluid or other vital fluids later on.
Key components to inspect before heading out include:
- Fluid levels
Addressing any identified issues before hitting the road, and remember — Safety is key!
Learn Defensive Driving Techniques
Defensive driving is a driving technique that puts you in a defensive role on the road. Rather than being the person who is aggressive or inattentive, you’ll be someone who watches out for others who might make mistakes on the road.
Think of defensive driving as simply being very cautious and double-checking what you do before you do it.
Some important defensive driving techniques truck drivers can use include:
- Maintaining a safe following distance. Remember that you need approximately the length of two football fields to stop safely. Give the vehicles in front of you plenty of space so you have time to stop if they put on their brakes or get into a crash.
- Anticipating potential hazards. Look around and be aware of items that might fall into the road, animals at the side of the road, broken down vehicles, and other potential risks.
- Checking your blind spots. The sides and rear of your vehicle are all potential blind spots. Before going into another lane or putting on your brakes, check those spots to make sure no vehicle or person is in them.
Here’s an example of how these defensive driving techniques can help.
Imagine Tom is driving down an interstate. He is in the middle lane and following at a safe distance behind a red car in front of him. Suddenly, Tom sees a dog run out into the road ahead of the red car. The car has to brake suddenly, and Tom does as well. Fortunately, the animal crosses safely.
As Tom gets closer to the vehicle and the driver starts to speed up again, he thinks moving into another lane may be safer, so he quickly checks his blind spot to the right, merges over, and continues forward at a slower speed. No one is hurt, and both drivers continue.
Manage Fatigue and Prioritize Rest
Driving while fatigued creates a significant risk to yourself and others. Fatigue slows down your reaction time and can make it difficult for you to make good decisions on the road. And if you nod off? You won’t be able to react at all.
Manage your time and prioritize rest to reduce the risk of collisions. To do so:
- Try to stay on a regular sleep schedule
- Use proper rest breaks to nap or get some sleep between shifts
- Eat well to give yourself enough energy to get through the day
Look for signs of fatigue and drowsy driving such as:
- Trouble remembering the last couple of miles
- Missing exits
- Hitting the rumble strip
- Blinking often
- Drifting in your lane
If you notice these signs, it’s time to take a break and pull over for rest.
Be Aware of the Weather and Road Conditions
Changes in the weather can be bad news for you on the roads, which is why you should stay updated at all times. Look at the weather forecast and specifically determine if you’re expected to face ice, fog, snow, high wind, or rain on your journey. If so, be prepared to slow down and increase your following distance, so you can avoid rear-end crashes, jackknifing, and other serious risks.
Avoid Distractions Behind the Wheel
Distracted driving led to 3,522 deaths in 2021, and it continues to be a challenge among drivers of all kinds today. Since you drive a large vehicle, it is particularly important for you to recognize the dangers of driving while distracted and to make a conscious effort not to do so.
When you drive distracted, you have slower reflexes. You may not notice problems ahead of you on the road or even issues with your own vehicle. Put down your devices, avoid looking away from the road, and do your best to stay focused to prevent serious collisions.
Stay Updated on Safety Regulations
Finally, stay updated on safety regulations for your industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regularly updates and issues guidelines that are designed to keep you safe. From how you transport hazardous materials to procedures for medical testing, workplace drug testing, alcohol testing programs, and your Hours of Service rules, they’re in charge of it all. It’s important that you take the initiative to stay current on these regulations.
Manage Your Safety and Career With Pride
At Pride Transport, we focus on your health and wellness on the road. Being safe benefits not only you and your team but also all the other drivers on the road.
Ready to start your career safely? Join us at Pride Transport.