1. MOVE SLOWLY.
You’re a professional driver. The #1 rule is to take your time.
Whatever you are doing, do it slowly and methodically.
- Whether you’re coming and going from a truck stop
- Pulling in and out of the drop yard
- Or looking for a new customer’s location
- Or backing your rig into a loading dock
No matter what you are doing in your daily routine as a professional truck driver, I can’t emphasize the importance of moving slowly and thinking through what you are doing.
Speed is often a major contributing factor in many preventable accidents.
Of all the advice and warnings , if I could only give ONE tip to a newly trained truck driver, moving on the ‘slower’ side and moving cautiously, would be THE best of the accident prevention tips, I know.
The F.M.C.S.A. offers a complete safety section on their website, for the professional truck driver.
2. BE THOROUGH.
Make sure you’ve covered all your bases and there’s nothing you’re forgetting like checking your blind spots, a complete pre-trip inspection etc.
Keep an eye on the entire vehicle as you’re just leaving the yard. This is a situation when some drivers take for granted where there are no obstacles.
Watch constantly. You need to watch the entire vehicle, not just around the front of the vehicle.
Being thorough and methodical will help keep you OUT OF TROUBLE.
It can be smart to do things in the same order each time, in order that you don’t forget to do something that’s critical.
For example, when preparing to leave the yard, go through the pre-trip, paperwork prep, air line check etc in the exact same order as you always do. That way, you stand the best chance of covering all the bases and thus preventing an accident.
3. TRIP PLAN.
Another challenge you’ll encounter, now that you’re on the road alone, is looking for your delivery destination.
Even when you’ve done your due diligence and planned for your trip to become familiar with the location of the customer on your map and/or GPS, this can still be very stressful.
Driving in traffic and locating a destination where you’ve never been before can be a scary thing, this can be quite stressful for experienced truckers, even after years of doing it.
But, it will get easier as time goes on.
4. GET A ROAD MAP AND USE IT.
One of the best tips, but one which new drivers and experienced truckers tend to ignore, is taking the time to get a good quality road map.
The GPS is just a tool though. It should not be the only source for directions. They are NOT the ultimate tool.
GPS devices sometimes make mistakes.
Be sure to get a road map and compare it to what the device is telling you.
5. CALL THE CUSTOMER FOR DIRECTIONS.
Before going in to deliver your load, call the receiver/customer and get detailed directions to the delivery location.
I mean the workers who are guiding trucks in and out of the loading facility, every day.
Compare what they’re telling you with your map and GPS.
You then have 3 points of reference. This is the best way to minimize your chances of making mistakes.
It is not fun driving around in a tractor trailer in a residential zone or being lost in an unsafe area.
Looking for a delivery location can be extra challenging if the customer is located in a highly populated area.
There’s a chance you may also need to deliver in an older area of a city where the streets are narrow, the corners are tight and the bridges are low.
The secret here again is to move along slowly and take your time.
Keep your eyes peeled.
6. WALK INTO YOUR DELIVERY AREA AND STUDY IT.
When you do find your customer, park on the street, walk in and have a look at where you’ll be backing the trailer in.
Study the layout of the area. Look for obstacles that might be in your way and may end up in your blind spots when you’re backing in.
Look at the area to see if there’s a way to avoid blind siding when backing in.
This tip can save you from unwanted surprises.
7. DON’T TRUST YOUR SPOTTER.
It’s not that you are trying to be a jerk. This task is your job.
You are ultimately responsible for the positioning and maneuvering of your vehicle.
The spotter does NOT have responsibility. REMEMBER THIS.
When backing up your truck and you have a spotter, there’s something you should remember.
9 times out of 10, the spotter is watching only one part of the truck.
Chances are he’s not watching for overhead clearance and he’s not watching your front right corner.
He’s likely just watching the back end of the trailer or a small section of the area.
The spotter’s intentions may be good. Do not trust him completely.
Get out of your truck often and have a look for yourself.
This is important if you’re blind siding in.
Take the time to get out and look numerous times. It’s so easy to hit something if you don’t.
ACCIDENT PREVENTION TIPS ARE INVALUABLE
There are far too many preventable accidents, many caused by excess speed and the backing up maneuver.
Yes, accidents do happen. However, the majority of accidents can be avoided by adopting some simple common sense thinking.
Are big trucks dangerous to drive?
If the truck driver lacks sufficient training, they will pose many unsafe challenges for the driver of the vehicle and the other vehicles on the road. That is why we stress the importance of seeking out top quality CDL training if you’re considering becoming a truck driver.
Is a truck driving career in today’s economic climate still worth it?
A truck driving career can certainly be a rewarding career if it is managed properly. Grabbing the first truck driving job offered after completing your CDL training, will not ensure a satisfying work experience. It takes time and energy to seek out a trucking company which will treat you fairly, pay you for your time and treat you with the respect you deserve as a licensed professional driver.
Is it difficult to drive a semi truck?
The answer is yes it is difficult to drive a semi truck. It’s something the average person does not appreciate. It’s very complex and contrary to popular belief, requires a high level set of skills and training to carry out properly and safely.
If I’m driving my car and a truck is in my way, should I speed up and pass the truck to get ahead of it?
This is about the most dangerous thing a car (passenger vehicle) can do on the highway. The public needs to respect the limitations of big trucks. They do NOT have the same maneuverability and stopping abilities of a car. This practice is actually called ‘brake checking’. It’s an extremely unsafe practice and illegal. Don’t do it.
Do truck drivers learn accident prevention tips in their CDL training program?
Much depends on the CDL school where the driver is trained. A certain amount of training on accident prevention is taught. However, some CDL training schools don’t focus on this nearly enough.
Should I inspect my truck before a trip?
Absolutely. A CDL driver is required to do a through pre-trip inspection on his equipment prior to trip departure. It’s a mandatory procedure, taught as part of a truck driver’s training program.
What are the duties of a truck driver?
A professional truck driver has countless duties, including inspecting his equipment, maneuvering his vehicle safely according to the law, delivering freight to a destination, obeying all traffic and highway laws. A truck driver has a lot to remember and the job is not an easy one.