How to Drive Your 18-Wheeler Safely in 2023
When learning a new hobby or skill, safety is often the part most people would like to skip and jump straight into having fun. But when it comes to truck driving, safety is the difference between life and death — not just for the trucker but for other drivers. In 2023, make safety a priority by following the tips listed below.
1. Stay alert
Trucks can’t move or respond as quickly as passenger vehicles, which means drivers need to be extra cautious of other drivers’ behaviors. To prevent accidents, stay aware of blind spots. These include the space directly behind the trailer, 10-15 feet in front of you, and the blind spots on both sides of the truck and trailer. Constantly scan your mirrors to maintain 360 degree awareness of your surroundings.
2. Keep up with vehicle maintenance
Neglecting maintenance increases the risk of an accident caused by a broken or damaged part. Create and stick to a maintenance schedule to ensure your truck stays in optimal condition year round.
3. Conduct pre-and post-trip inspections
Pre- and post-trip inspections are a daily requirement for truckers. During the inspection, check the braking system, steering system, fifth wheel assembly, headlights, marker lights, signal lights, and tires.
4. Minimize distractions
Reading or responding to text messages, flipping through the radio, and reaching for snacks cause truckers to take their eyes off the road and exponentially increase their risk of an accident.
5. Prepare for dangerous road conditions
Ice, snow, rain, fog, disabled vehicles, road construction, accidents, and animals on the road are a few hazards truckers will encounter on the road. Know how to respond to each incident to minimize the risk to yourself and others.
6. Take scheduled breaks
Driver fatigue is a leading contributor to accidents in the trucking industry. To prevent driver fatigue, follow hours of service requirements and take the necessary breaks. If you feel tired, pull over and take a brief nap.
7. Set up a dash cam
If or when an accident occurs, you want a dash cam to record exactly what happened and to help determine fault. The footage from a dash cam could protect you from false accusations, legal penalties, rising insurance costs, and potential termination by your employer.