Large trucks were involved in 5,700 fatal crashes in 2021, 18% more than in 2020. Over the past ten years, the number of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes has increased by 49%. An additional 117,300 trucks were in collisions resulting in injury.
These are not statistics to be proud of; they are horrifying. The statistics don’t include buses or motor homes. These are professional truck drivers operating rigs over 10,000 pounds.
Whether a seasoned driver or just starting a truck driver career, a truck safety refresher benefits everyone. Defensive driving and staying alert to potential hazards save time and money.
Don’t risk downtime and costly lawsuits from truck accidents. Keep reading for five safe driving tips every pro needs to follow.
1. Pre-Trip and Post-Trip Inspections
Safety for tuckers begins with checking the rig before climbing into the cab. The DMV requires every driver to inspect their truck to ensure it is safe to operate on the road. The driver must report any problems.
Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, §396.11, lists every driver’s end-of-day inspection requirements. They must file a written report with their findings. This ensures accessories necessary for safe operation, including brakes, lighting, tires, tie-down bolsters, and more, are less likely to fail, causing an accident.
2. Avoid Driver Distractions
Anything causing a driver to remove their eyes from the road is an accident waiting to happen. Looking at what is happening at the roadside for a few seconds can be catastrophic. This can be eating, texting, or talking on the phone.
In 2017, the Weston family was on their way to Michigan Adventures theme park. Jonathan Ashley, a 25-year-old trucker, looked off to the side, and in that moment of distraction, he ran over the Weston family car.
The father and mother, who was pregnant at the time, were uninjured. Their three children in the back were not as lucky. One had minor injuries and another required ankle surgery.
Four-year-old Connor, still in a car seat, suffered permanent life-altering brain injuries. Connor continues to improve but will require 24-hour nursing care his entire life. The family is watching this little boy grow up in a wheelchair, unable to communicate.
The driver of that semi hit a jogger 11 months before this horrific accident.
3. Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is key to ensuring safety for truckers and others. Most auto operators need to learn how to drive around big rigs properly. They will ride in your blind spot, cut in front of you suddenly, or try to sneak around your right side when you make a wide right turn.
These are only a few things you will encounter on the road. Always maintain a safe following distance and allow extra time when driving in inclement weather. The FMCA recommends semis allow one second of stopping time for every ten feet of the vehicle under 40 mph and two seconds for every foot at higher speeds.
4. Avoid Driver Fatigue
Avoid trucker fatigue; ensure safe driving by remaining alert. Take breaks to reduce drowsiness and prevent health issues, including trucker’s knee.
Hop out of the cab and stretch your legs. Fresh air will clear your mind and prevent you from becoming distracted by the aches and pains of too many hours behind the wheel.
5. Preventative Maintenance
In the Top Ten Driver Issues List of 2021, the number one complaint of truck drivers is tractor mechanical breakdown problems. Taking third place is broken down tractor equipment assignments. Mechanical issues with trailers and tires took sixth place, and onboard communication device equipment not working took tenth place.
Build a preventative maintenance schedule that custom fits the use of each rig in your fleet. Regular upkeep keeps trucks on the road and out of the repair shop. The frequency of maintenance depends on daily mileage and breakdown history.
Ensure Truck Safety
McIntosh Trucking is a family-owned and operated business with over 70 trucks in our fleet. We ensure driver safety while offering excellent customer service to business clients. We have 99% owner/operators and encourage drivers seeking employment to complete a driver application.
If you’re an owner/operator or company needing service on your rig, we offer 24/7 on-call services. Contact our garage at (417) 255-0875 or use our contact form.
Businesses needing freight transportation can use our contact form or call us at (417) 255-0874. We ensure your product moves in a safe, cost-effective manner.
Whatever your needs, we can help. Call us today!