Driving the biggest rig on the road doesn’t reduce the risk of a collision or injuries. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just recently earned your commercial driver’s license, here are a few tips to help you stay safe.
1. Plan ahead.
Driving in unfamiliar places requires paying extra attention to road signs, traffic lights, and pedestrians. A GPS can help you map a route to your destination, but it won’t tell you which bridges or underpasses to avoid. Check a map ahead of time to get a better picture of where you’re headed and any detours you may need to take.
2. Conduct a pre-check.
If you’re new to a shopping plaza, it’s a good idea to get out of your truck (once you reach the plaza) and walk the route to the unloading dock to get a good sense of road hazards. This may help reduce the risk of blindsiding another car, rolling the truck, or hitting a pedestrian.
3. Drive at a safe speed.
Driving an 18-wheeler is very different from driving a passenger car. Speed limits are meant to be obeyed, rather than taken as suggestions. In addition, bad weather may require lowering your speed to account for poor visibility and dangerous road conditions. Getting to your destination on-time is important, but it’s not worth reckless driving or the increased risk of an accident.
4. Follow regulations for driving and sleep.
Contrary to what you believed about rules as a teenager, when it comes to rules for driving a big rig, they’re meant to protect you and other drivers on the road. There are strict limits to how many hours you can drive in one day. You’ll also need to take the required number of breaks and time off for sleep.
5. Stay focused.
Plan your music or podcast playlist in advance and don’t ever text while driving. It’s not worth the risk to you or other drivers.
6. Keep up with truck maintenance.
Conduct a thorough check before embarking on a trip and don’t skip routine maintenance. A small issue could quickly snowball into a large expense and an increased risk of accident.
7. Know what you’re hauling.
Whether you’re a dry hauler or a hazardous materials driver, it’s important to know what’s in your trailer in case of an emergency. Some cargo may need special handling and care if the trip turns out to be longer than expected.