Since the first truck was built by the German automotive giant Daimler (now Mercedes-Benz) in 1896, the truck industry has come a long way. Followed by Ford & Chevrolet, subsequently, in 1917-18, the growth has been phenomenal. Trucking has become an integral part of trade and commerce. Over the years, trucks have evolved from four-horsepower engines to efficient transportation machines with GPS tracking devices. One cannot imagine a world without these magnificent automobiles running on the highways, always in a hurry – running against time.
This article lists out 10 Safety Tips For Truck Drivers to ensure their safety and others.
The trucking profession is very demanding as it requires a person to drive on the most challenging roads and terrains under varying climatic conditions. Additionally, the responsibility of delivering the goods within the stipulated deadline always looms at the back of the mind. Though modern technology has made truck tracking easier with fleet GPS tracking, the onus on operating these advanced GPS trackers rests with the truck driver. Therefore, the truck driver needs to have a calm demeanor and an understanding of these advanced GPS tracking devices to conduct their job in the safest possible way.
A Well-Conditioned Mind and Body
Spending long hours behind the wheel needs your body and mind to be in sound shape, and this applies to every driver in the fleet. Doctors recommend short exercise sessions before undertaking any journey. In the absence of a gym or equipment, you can opt for bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and planks for 20 minutes. Any form of meditation, even for as less as 10 minutes, will give a sense of calmness to the mind and rejuvenate the eyes, making vision much sharper. This in turn will help the driver to focus on the road during those long drives. Exercises will help not only in strengthening muscles but also regulate blood pressure and mitigate cardiovascular diseases.
Avoiding Driver Fatigue
Driver Fatigue is when the drivers are tired and deprived of sleep. Some of the symptoms are dozing while driving, slow reflexes, daydreaming, and memory issues. It is dangerous and results in thousands of road accidents in a year. Getting proper sleep is the only way of protecting against driver fatigue. A good night’s sleep spanning from seven to eight hours is best to overcome driver fatigue.
According to federal statistics, driver fatigue is the reason for 13% of truck accidents in the U.S. every year.
Planning resting locations and schedules
Once the trip has been finalized, spend some time studying the route. Check for alternate routes in case of any roadblocks or unforeseen situations. If confronted with such a situation, plan where you will pull over and wait till everything is back in your control. It will give you the much-needed rest against spending time in the vehicle, waiting for things to clear. Various GPS Solution service providers can be of help in the identification of routes and alternate routes.
In the case of big trucks, there are visual limitations concerning the rear part of the trucks. Installing rear-view cameras will make parking or reversing the vehicle easier. There are weather and shockproof cameras available, which allow drivers to view images from various angles. Rear-view cameras are of great help in alerting drivers of blind spots. Installing rear-view cameras in the fleet will help in avoiding any accidents.
Installing GPS with Dashcam
Gaining popularity in the fleet business is the Dash Cams. These Dash Cams combined with GPS trackers known as Truck GPS tracking are becoming an integral part of the fleet business. The device helps record trip history, including the total duration of the journey along with the halts. This data can be used for better fleet tracking and optimizing efficiency. Route optimization helps in reducing maintenance and fuel costs. From a safety point of view, these recordings act as solid evidence and can help exonerate the driver against wrongful accusations.
Ensure that the automobile is ready, in every respect, for undertaking the long journey. Check the condition of the engine. Make sure that fuel and all other lubricant levels are correct. Check tire pressure and also the readiness of the spare tire. Carry a portable truck tire inflator, which will be very helpful for inflating tires during long journeys. Have the tool kit ready with all the basic tools needed in case of any emergency. Chains should be present in the truck, especially during winter months to enable tires to grip the snow better.
A thorough inspection needs to be carried out before the commencement and after the completion of each trip. This step should include proper checking of all mechanical parts of the vehicle systematically. The functioning of the truck GPS tracking system must also be checked by qualified personnel, as the GPS tracker is a necessary navigation device. The driver needs to be briefed by their supervisor before undertaking any journey. If there is an unexpected malfunction in the dashcam or GPS tracker, the driver must have the training to address the same. They must also test the integrity of the brake pads after each trip, as it is the most critical part of the truck.
Caution at Blind spots and Overtaking
Every driver on the fleet should be aware that the most obvious blind spots are the ones that are directly in the front or behind the truck or trailer. The driver can try and minimize the blind spots by creating more space around the vehicle as possible. They can also use additional hood mirrors and passenger side look-down mirrors for better visibility. Additionally, multiple cameras can be added for offering a better view. There is no precise technology available for trucks to address the issue of blind spots or for even overtaking vehicles. The driver has to use their judgment and put all their experience to use for handling blind spots or while overtaking.
Avoid Alcohol & Drugs
Driving schools ingrain one message into all commercial drivers – don’t drink and drive. It is a dangerous habit, and as a driver, you must avoid the same at all costs. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs clouds the mind and impairs judgment. One mistake or a small distraction can mean a risk to the driver’s and people’s life on the road. Not to forget that if convicted, it could mean imprisonment and loss of job.
Eat Clean & Stay Hydrated
It is most important to follow a balanced diet and avoid processed foods high in sugar content and refined carbs. These need to be replaced with fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and nuts. Limit intake of caffeine and sugary drinks. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking at least 4 liters of water a day. Quit smoking at the earliest.
Fleet management has come a long way; it is a constantly changing landscape with many innovations and inventions. One of the most important things to be noted by fleet owners is the significance of training their drivers. There should be a considerable portion of money and time invested in the training program for drivers. The knowledge gained by the drivers will be valuable and will reflect in their performances and thereby will be a win-win situation for all concerned parties.
It is an exciting time for the trucking industry with innovations and the use of technology. Some of the noteworthy technological advances in the trucking industry are: –
- Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) – A Federal law that requires all trucks to use electronic logging devices. The ELDs communicate with the automobile’s engine control unit (ECU) to receive details of the engine and provide, real-time GPS location to a logging device or app which can be checked by the regulator.
- Collision Avoidance System – This system has radar-based technology and features like automatic braking and additional braking power to help drivers keep a safe distance between vehicles. Collision Avoidance System generates a series of alerts when any stationary metallic object is in the truck’s path or lane. Since this is an advanced system, it is highly priced.
- Autonomous Vehicles – Several automobile manufacturers have been striving to introduce autonomous trucks, which will run from one point to another without a driver. These self-driving trucks will potentially improve efficiency on the longer routes, lower the cost of trucking and eventually reduce the total cost of goods being transported.
When the GPS solution was first introduced, little did anyone envisage the transformation that would take place in the trucking industry. The inclusion of fleet GPS tracking in the trucking industry brought in the much lacking discipline. Similarly, with newer innovations, it can be expected that the trucking industry is going to reach greater heights, which will be beneficial for fleet operators and their employees alike.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is road safety important for truck drivers?
A: Road safety is important for truck drivers to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of other motorists and pedestrians on the road.
Q: What are some common causes of truck accidents?
A: Some common causes of truck accidents include driver fatigue, distracted driving, speeding, improper maintenance of the vehicle, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Q: What are some tips for avoiding driver fatigue?
A: Tips for avoiding driver fatigue include getting enough rest before driving, taking regular breaks, avoiding driving during the night, and following a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Q: How can truck drivers avoid distractions while driving?
A: To avoid distractions while driving, truck drivers should avoid using their mobile phones, eating or drinking while driving, and engaging in other distracting activities that take their eyes and attention off the road.
Q: What should truck drivers do in case of an emergency?
A: In case of an emergency, truck drivers should pull over to a safe location as soon as possible, contact emergency services if necessary, and follow any procedures outlined by their employer or the relevant authorities.
James Johnson is a former truck driver who now works as a writer, specializing in the trucking industry. With over 15 years of experience on the road, James has a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities faced by truck drivers and the trucking industry as a whole. His writing focuses on issues such as safety, regulation, and the latest industry trends. His work has been featured in several trucking publications and he has received recognition for his contributions to the industry. In his free time, James still enjoys being around trucks and often attends truck shows and other industry events.