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Although the primary goal of good truck driving practices is to keep you and others safe on the road, good driving has the additional benefit of preventing unnecessary wear and tear on light- or medium-duty trucks and helps control insurance costs.
Here are 10 key safety tips to remember while on the road:
1. Know the limits.
On long road trips, it’s easy to get drowsy, and that’s when accidents happen. Ensure drivers start their trips fresh, and, if they feel fatigued on the road, instruct them to pull over and take a nap.
2. Check the brakes.
Brake failure is obviously a potential disaster. Check brakes often and carefully, especially if driving through mountainous areas or on steep declines.
3. Check tires.
A blowout on the road can endanger the driver and other vehicles. An ounce of prevention — a timely tire replacement — is worth a pound of cure.
4. Keep a space bubble.
Trucks do not stop on a dime — even light-duty trucks take time, especially when carrying a full load. And, remind drivers that braking time increases substantially in rain, on snow or ice, and when going downhill.
5. Pay super-close attention in work zones.
Besides the fact that speeding in a work zone can result in the loss of a driver’s license, the risk of a serious accident is much higher.
6. Zero distracted driving.
Cell-phone use while driving, especially texting, is becoming an epidemic. In addition, eating behind the wheel or trying to figure out directions while driving are also serious distractions.
7. Keep all safety items stocked.
A driver’s safety kit should include items such as usable spare tires, tools, flares, reflective triangles, and first aid supplies. The unexpected can happen at any time on the road, but, if drivers are prepared, they will be able to make the most of whatever bad situation comes their way.
8. Always wear a seat belt.
It may be obvious, but wearing a seat belt is so important that it must be mentioned.
9. Exercise patience.
Like driving while texting, road rage is another modern driving phenomenon that can cause serious safety and liability issues. Instruct drivers to avoid confrontations with other drivers, as this will only make a bad situation worse. On heavily trafficked roads, drivers should be prepared for vehicles to attempt to pass on the right or where there is insufficient space to safely do so.
10. Don’t speed.
Driving too fast for conditions is a common cause of truck accidents, and one of the most common reasons to be issued a ticket. Speeding isn’t worth losing a license, and, with that, a driver’s job. Remind drivers that it’s far better to arrive a few minutes late than not at all.
Driving a truck, whether small or large, is a big responsibility. Great drivers are well aware of this, and take a professional, disciplined approach to road safety, whether they are going across the country or across the street.
Scott Van Beek has more than 15 years of experience at Raney’s Truck Parts, specifically working for the service center. He has been in the hydraulics industry for almost 40 years.