Long-haul trucking is both one of the most crucial jobs in the U.S. — ensuring timely delivery of important goods (and delighting kids with even more timely horn-pulling) — and, unfortunately, one of its most risky.
Over 100,000 injuries and 300,000 accidents involved large trucks in 2012, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. And Time ranked truck driving number 8 on its 2014 list of the “10 Most Dangerous Jobs.”
7 truck driving tips
Here’s our list of truck driver safety pointers perfect for both drivers new to their vehicles and savvy pros looking for a quick refresher.
1. Watch your blind spots
Other motorists may not be aware of a truck’s “no zones” — those where crashes are most likely to occur. Common “no zones” include:
- Off to the side just in front of the cab
- Just behind the side mirrors
- Directly behind the truck
If others aren’t aware of these trouble spots, they may drive dangerously close. As frustrating as this can be, it’s up to you to exercise caution before turning or changing lanes and to maintain a safe distance.
2. Reduce speed in work zones
Roughly one-third of all fatal work-zone accidents involve large trucks. Make sure to take your time going through interstate construction — your delivery can always wait.
3. Maintain your truck
Give your vehicle a thorough check each morning (fluid levels, horn, mirrors, etc.). The brakes are particularly vital, given how much weight is riding on them. If you spot anything unusual, report it to dispatch before attempting to drive.
4. Load cargo wisely
The higher you stack cargo, the more drag on the truck. By stacking lower and spreading cargo through the full space of the truck, you can stay more nimble and improve your fuel economy.
5. Reduce speed on curves
Usually, following the speed limit is a good thing. When it comes to trucking, however, there are times when even adhering to posted signs is still too fast (confusing, we know).
Particularly on exit/entrance ramps, the speed limits are meant more for cars; trucks have a tendency to tip over if they take the curves too fast. When going through any curve, it’s best to set your speed far lower than the posted limit to make up for your rig’s unique dimensions.
6. Adjust for bad weather
Inclement weather causes roughly 25 percent of all speeding-related truck driving accidents. Cut your speed down by one-third on wet roads, and by one-half on snowy or icy ones.
Also allow more time for maneuvers in poor weather. Let your blinker run for a good 5 blinks before your change lanes, and signal for turns before slowing down.
And if you see other truckers pulling over, maybe it’s best you do likewise.
7. Take care of yourself
A big part of truck driver safety has less to do with your vehicle, and more to do with you. Getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, and taking quality home time will all help you feel more content and refreshed behind the wheel — 2 qualities prized in any driver.
Get step-by-step advice on how to live a healthy trucker lifestyle.
commercial auto insurance for truckers
Perhaps the greatest of all truck driving tips: find the right commercial auto insurance. Of course, we can help with that, too.
When you start a free commercial auto insurance quote through Esurance, you can select from amazing options — such as loading and unloading coverage, inland marine coverage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist protection — that add peace of mind wherever your route takes you.