Trucking Safety

    Trucking is a high-risk profession, as many as 600 truckers are killed on the job every year. The fatalities and injuries involved with trucking stem from vehicle collisions and fuel fires. However, long term health problems linked to fume inhalations and circulation problems also make trucking dangerous. Below are a few tips to keep truckers and other motorists safe.

    VISUAL SIGNALING

    1. Upon arriving at an intersection be sure to signal early and often to ensure that other motorists know which way your truck is turning.
    2. Always make sure to slow down long before a complete stop is necessary. Other motorists do not realize how long it takes for a truck to come to a full stop, so seeing the brake lights early will help to avoid a collision.
    3. Keep changing lanes to a minimum as trucking “no zones” or blind spots are large. Be sure to check mirrors every 7 or 8 seconds.
    4. When routinely checking your vehicle, always be sure to check the headlights, brake lights, and turn signal lights to avoid accidents.
    5. When driving slower than the speed limit due to a heavy load or bad weather always use your flashers.

    PARKING

    1. Use the specific parking set aside for trucks as big rigs need four times the space as an average passenger car.
    2. Trucks should never be parked on roadways with speed limits over 30 mph unless disabled.
    3. When pulling off to the the side of the road or highway, always use precaution with flares, flashers, and safety triangles to alert other motorists.
    4. Do not park your truck near driveways or side streets, as the tractor trailer can obstruct a motorist’s view of oncoming traffic.
    5. Never park facing oncoming traffic.

    IDLING

    1. Do not let your truck idle for more than 5 minutes at a time as it is a waste of fuel.
    2. Do not idle your truck while sleeping, loading or unloading. Not only does it burn fuel, it has also been linked to lung cancer in truck drivers.
    3. When idling your vehicle, do not leave it unattended. This is how theft happens.
    4. If idling is necessary, keep windows closed or wear a safety mask so as not to inhale too many fumes.
    5. Idling may be necessary in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid fuel-gelling. This can be for as much as 10-20 minutes as necessary.

    WEATHER

    1. In rain or snow conditions be sure to keep substantial space between your truck and the vehicle in front of your truck in case of an emergency stop.
    2. In bad weather, do not feel obliged to go as fast as the speed limit. Slower speeds are necessary to avoid rollovers, jackknifes, and collisions.
    3. Always keep tire chains on hand in case of snow or ice.
    4. Keep the fuel tank full during the colder seasons as water condensation can build up in the fuel line.
    5. Remember to take extra precautions on bridges as they freeze before roads do.

    LONG HAUL DRIVING

    1. Do not tailgate. Although long haul trucking entails hours of driving and frustrations run high, keep emotions in check.
    2. Take sufficient breaks and actually get out of the truck in order to stay fresh and alert on long hauls.
    3. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing as sitting for long periods of time can cut off circulation and cause serious health problems over time.
    4. Admit to yourself when you are fatigued. Driving while exhausted can be more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
    5. Remember that trucking regulations prohibit more than 11 hours of continuous trucking with a subsequent 10 hour off-duty break. However, this is not always enough rest time so be sure to pay attention to your body’s fatigue levels.

    FURTHER RESOURCES

    Safety Tips: pointers for truck drivers and other motorists to stay safe on the road.

    Share the Road Safely: tips for truck and bus drivers including defensive driving and maintenance.

    Trucking Safety: a guide from the Ohio Department of Public Safety on changing lanes, wide turns, and avoiding accidents.

    Parking: a list of rules and regulations to maximize safety while parking a tractor trailer.

    Truck Safety Coalition: an organization dedicated to the safety trucking regulations.


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