Truck Driving Safety Tips
The myths and realities of commercial driving
For commercial drivers, the front seat is the office from which they provide a vital service – making sure parts and products get from point A to wherever they need to be.
And while the road offers great freedom, it also comes with the pressure of needing to deliver – day in and day out.
Are your commercial drivers always making safety the most important cargo they carry?
The following information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration dispels a number of myths regarding commercial driving. Test your knowledge on this topic – then make sure your drivers, too, know the realities of the road.
Myth: Good truck drivers don’t need to wear seatbelts.
Reality: Your chances of being killed are almost 25 times higher if you are thrown from your vehicle during a crash. Safety belts can keep you from being tossed out a window, from being dragged on the road or from being crushed by your own vehicle or another.
Pay attention to driving conditions
Myth: Commercial vehicle drivers have experience driving in bad weather and can handle anything, so they can drive faster safely.
Reality: Adverse weather conditions contribute to 25 percent of speeding-related large-truck fatalities. Drivers should reduce their speed by one-third on wet roads and by half or more on snow-packed streets.
Put the brakes on speeding
Myth: Trucks should follow speed limits posted on curve warning signs and entrance/exit ramps.
Reality: Curve and entrance/exit ramp speed limits are intended for small vehicles, not large trucks. Studies show large trucks often lose control or roll over when entering a curve at a posted speed limit due to their high center of gravity.
Check and recheck blind spots
Myth: Other drivers know not to ride in the blind spots or “no zones” of commercial motor vehicles.
Reality: Never rely on other drivers to stay out of your blind spots; they may not be aware of the size of your vehicle’s “no zone.” Check your mirrors every 5-8 seconds as well as before you change lanes, turn or merge. This will help you keep track of changing traffic patterns around your truck.
Look down the road
Myth: Good truckers can slow down safely without much notice.
Reality: To safely slow down, a commercial motor vehicle driver should look at least 15 seconds ahead (a quarter-mile on the interstate and one-and-a-half blocks in the city). Paying attention to the road ahead helps avoid dangerous, abrupt braking situations.
Don’t drive drowsy
Myth: Drivers are used to getting little sleep and can safely stay awake by using distractions.
Reality: Research shows that being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent. It’s vital to your safety and the motorists around you to pay attention to signs of drowsiness: frequent yawning, heavy eyes and blurred vision.
These recommendations were developed using generally accepted safety standards. Compliance with these recommendations is not a guarantee that you will be in conformance with federal, state or local laws. Compliance with these recommendations does not ensure the absolute safety of your occupation or business.
Additional commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driving resources
For more safe driving tips for CMV operators, visit these sites:
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Videos, safety tips and statistics.
- Commercial Truck and Bus Safety (Transportation Research Board) – Research, safety belt statistics and ergonomics.
- Drowsy Driving (National Sleep Foundation) – Warning signs of drowsy driving, prevention and videos.
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