Our professional drivers know that the truck they drive and trailer they pull carry significant weight, size and power. This means they have an immense responsibility and sense of duty to be cautious while driving, to ensure that they keep those around them safe. Being proactive about safety is crucial for our drivers and something we, at Erb, take pride in doing. However, every now and then, being reminded of those fundamental safety tips doesn’t hurt. In fact, they could spare future headaches, keep clean driving records, and even save lives.
Here are some safety tips you should always remember:
Plan your routes: Before you hit the road, plan your route. Know exactly where you are going, to avoid going down narrow roads or dead-ends that leave you no choice but to back-out out of them. Plan where you will stop to eat, fuel and sleep. Know the route to the shipper and study it. If you haven’t been to this shipper don’t be afraid to ask other peers about what their loading areas are like. This can provide you with some valuable insight on potential challenges or hazards. Whenever possible, park in a safe area and walk into the delivery location to get a better idea of where you will be backing in. Take a mental picture and assess all obstacles and curves to navigate the area strategically and ensure you know exactly what to expect.
Avoid Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is a leading cause in road collisions. In parts of Canada, fatalities caused by distracted driving have surpassed those caused by impaired driving. Drivers can be distracted for a variety of reasons: eating while driving to save some time, reaching for a sweater, lighting a cigarette, checking a route, talking on the phone or texting. All drivers but, especially professional drivers operating large vehicles, must be extra alert and not let themselves get distracted. It takes trucks more time to decelerate, it’s harder for them to make quick maneuvers and they have more blind spots or “no zones.”
Be aware of your surroundings: Spot hazards early by scanning the road 10-15 seconds ahead of you. Don’t just stare directly at the road in front of you, this could be dangerous. Be aware and alert of the vehicles all around you. When on the highway, watch for turning signals and drivers merging from on-ramps. If you are in the city, be mindful of pedestrians, cyclists and of course all the road signs providing you with directions and warnings. By being aware of your surroundings you can spot and react to things such as a ball rolling onto the road or a vehicle door opening with more anticipation.
Know what is behind you:
It is very important to check behind you before you change lanes. Look over your shoulder to make sure you are not getting in the way of vehicles in the lane you want to enter. Always be sure to reduce your speed. Take a quick glance in your mirrors. Also check your mirrors when you are preparing to turn into a side road or driveway and when you are stopping to pull into a parking space. Be aware of the vehicles behind you before you drive down a long or steep hill. It’s especially important to watch for large vehicles because they can gather speed very quickly. And of course, before backing up anywhere, check behind you. Backing up is always dangerous because it is hard to see behind your vehicle. When you are backing out of a parking space “Get Out And Look” (GOAL) before backing up check in front and behind the vehicle before you get in. Do not depend only on your mirrors or only looking out a side window. Turn and look over your right and left shoulders before you begin backing. As a safety measure, also look over your right and left shoulders again while backing. Reverse slowly to avoid collisions.
Keep a safe distance: As you know, slowing down takes much longer for large commercial vehicles and I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear most rear end collisions are caused by tailgating. Make sure to always keep a safe distance between yourself and the driver in front of you, especially when the ground is wet, or if your visibility is obstructed by weather. If you are in a situation where you were following too closely and a driver “cuts” you off, just take your foot off the gas to slow down instead of slamming on your brakes or swerving into another lane. Always be mindful of weather, traffic, and road conditions; ensuring to adjust your speed and distances when necessary. Lastly, avoid driving side-by-side with other large trucks, leave some space. Whether this means speeding up a bit or slowing down to create an adequate gap.
Fatigue Management: The Hours-of-Service rules are meant to help minimize fatigue, protect you and increase road safety. Follow these guidelines and regulations closely to help ensure you are receiving adequate rest. Take some time to learn ways to improve your quality of sleep, and when necessary, pull over and take a power nap. Not a napper? Click here for some tips and the benefits of a quick power nap.
Don’t rush: Easier said than done. Many accidents occur in moments where you feel under pressure and in a rush. Whether it’s a vehicle tailgating you, or vehicles waiting for you to make a tight turn, don’t let the pressure of drivers around you cause you to make a mistake. Always take your time, 80,000 pounds of equipment should not be taken lightly. You might cause someone a couple seconds of delay or frustration but always remember, you are a professional driver, by taking your time you are ensuring the greater good for all those sharing the road with you. The same goes for entering and leaving a truck stop or backing into a loading dock. Move slowly, play it smart, be safe.
Refreshing your memory regularly on the fundamentals of safe driving will keep other road users around you safe and will get you home safely to your family. Remember they are depending on you to practise safety first and have a successful career. The dedication our drivers display is celebrated in the safety acknowledgements we have been awarded year after year. Thank you for your dedication to safety and making cool moves with us! Be sure to leave a safety tip for your fellow drivers and don’t forget to share!