When it comes to driving, safety is of utmost importance, especially for truck drivers. While the number of truck-related fatalities has severely dropped over the last several decades, there are still a significant amount of accidents involving large trucks.

In 2017 there were 450,000 police-reported large truck crashes. Roughly 4,200 of these resulted in a fatality while 344,000 resulted in injuries.

If you as the truck driver are involved in an accident, there could be severe negative consequences. That’s why we have compiled this list of truck driving tips to help you drive the road as safely as possible.

Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has been cited as a leading cause of accidents for all drivers, truck drivers included. In 2017, nine percent of all fatal crashes were found to be caused by distracted driving.

There are ultimately three types of distracted driving:

  • Visual (e.g. being distracted by a phone)
  • Manual (e.g. eating a meal)
  • Cognitive (e.g. road rage)

Arguably the biggest cause of distracted driving today is due to cell phones and other tech gadgets. Most states have severe penalties for drivers who are using cell phones and there is also a Mobile Phone Restriction Rule for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers that prohibits most forms of phone use.

If you do need to make a phone call while driving, follow these guidelines:

  • Keep the phone close enough that you don’t need to shift positions.
  • Utilize voice-activated or one-touch dialing.
  • Use an earpiece or speakerphone.
  • If your vehicle has Bluetooth capability, be sure to connect your phone using Bluetooth.

For trucking safety, the bottom line is that when you are driving, your attention should be on the road.

Drive Defensively

Driving defensively is a driving technique all drivers should be using, especially truck drivers. One of the best trucking safety tips is to be prepared to keep not only yourself safe but other drivers as well.

Several elements factor into driving defensively:

One of the biggest but sometimes overlooked aspects of defensive driving is taking account of the weather and road conditions. Heavy rain, snow, and winds can make driving large trucks hazardous. You should always check the weather before you drive and take it into account.
If the weather becomes too severe, don’t worry about meeting your schedule—wait it out. Safety should always come first.

Give Ample Braking Distance

One of the more important tips for trucking safety is to always give yourself plenty of braking distance. There is a simple formula you can follow that can help:

  • Perception Distance: It takes about ¾ of a second for an alert driver to see and to recognize a driving hazard.
  • Reaction Distance: It takes another ¾ of a second for that driver’s brain to tell the driver to brake.
  • Braking Distance: The time it takes for a truck to stop after the brake has been applied is about 4 seconds.

All in all, it will take a semi-truck about 6 second to come to a full stop. This means that a truck traveling 55 mph will have traveled about 512 feet in that short span of time.

Night Driving Safety Tips

Driving a semi-truck at night can be very challenging. Despite all of your best efforts, fatigue will begin to set in and your body will try to force you to go to sleep. For this reason (and others), many drivers completely avoid driving at night.

If you must drive at night, be sure to do the following:

  • Keep windows and mirrors clean to reduce glare.
  • Know when your body is trying to go to sleep.
  • Pull to the side of the road and sleep if you need to.
  • Regularly get your vision checked and obtain corrective lenses if needed.

There are many aspects to trucking safety that are critical to the safety of you and everyone on the road. As you get behind the steering wheel, take the time to ensure your vehicle meets the safety standards and you are alert to your surroundings.