Every year, the National Safety Council recognizes June as National Safety Month to build awareness about key topics impacting safety both inside and outside of the workplace.
Driving, one key focus area of this year’s National Safety Month, is a particularly important safety topic for truck drivers. With jobs centered entirely around driving, truck drivers must watch out for common road hazards while also operating large, heavy trucks.
Brushing up on driving safety is important for all drivers – even those with years of experience – to ensure they have the knowledge necessary to do their jobs safely. Here are some of Red Kite’s driver safety tips for carriers to practice during National Safety Month and beyond.
Driving requires full focus on the road, and distractions like eating can take attention away from driving, increasing the risk of an accident.
One of the most common – and dangerous – distractions that drivers face is cell phones. While it is illegal for drivers to text and drive, drivers should avoid the temptation to send a quick message by putting their phone away. Drivers should also use hands-free device to take phone calls so they can keep both hands on the wheel while driving.
Before heading out on a delivery, drivers should place anything that could potentially distract them out of sight. If drivers find themselves in a situation on the road where they need to do something that would distract from driving, they should pull over or stop at the nearest exit so they can safely do so.
Monitor Weather Conditions
Hazardous weather conditions like heavy rain or snow can make roadways dangerous. To prepare for inclement weather in advance, drivers should check weather reports before heading out on the road so they know what to expect. Drivers should also monitor forecasts when traveling to their destination in case conditions change.
Drivers who encounter severe weather during their delivery should slow down and leave extra space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them so they can safely stop if roads become slick or visibility is reduced.
While important for all drivers, defensive driving is especially crucial for truck drivers. Trucks are large and difficult to stop, so it is important that truck drivers drive defensively and be aware of their surroundings to better prepare for roadway hazards.
Truck drivers should regularly check their truck’s surroundings – including blind spots – and scan ahead by 15 seconds. Drivers should also try to avoid driving directly next to other vehicles so they have space for an “escape route” in case of an emergency.
Check & Maintain Your Truck
Equipment failures are unexpected and can be dangerous if they occur on the road. Regular truck inspections, however, can help drivers be proactive in spotting signs of equipment problems. Before driving, drivers should inspect the following parts for any malfunctions:
- Underneath the truck’s cab, for signs of leaking oil or coolants
- Fluid levels
- Load securement
If a driver notices anything unusual during their inspection, they should contact dispatch immediately and wait until the equipment problem can be addressed before driving.
Trucks are high-profile vehicles and susceptible to turning over, particularly on turns and curves. If a truck driver goes around a curve too quickly, they risk tipping the truck over.
To ensure their truck does not tip, drivers should approach all turns and curves slowly. While this may require drivers to go slower than posted speed limits, it is better to be cautious than to risk an accident. Drivers should always follow the posted truck speed limits on highways as well, especially in work zones, where lanes are often narrow and can suddenly shift.
Take Breaks & Get Adequate Rest
Truck drivers spend hours on the road each day, which can be mentally fatiguing. Once drivers become fatigued, their ability to stay focused on the road diminishes, and the risk for an accident increases.
When drivers start to feel tired or find they are having trouble focusing on driving, they should pull over and take a break to boost their energy by taking a quick nap, stretching or eating a light snack. Healthy lifestyle habits can also help truck drivers feel more energized and prevent fatigue on the roadway, such as getting adequate sleep, eating healthy and exercising.
These are just some of the practices that truck drivers can implement and follow to be safer on the road. For more resources on driver safety awareness and training, visit the National Safety Month website.