Driving our nation's big rigs takes a certain kind of person-a certain kind of driver. There are a lot of dangers involved, both for them and other vehicles-add in long hours, a wandering mind, fatigue, and hazardous road conditions … many things can go wrong. This is no news to you as a truck driver, most of whom take their jobs really seriously, but a reminder never hurts, and in this business, being too sure of yourself can be a hazardous thing.
It's a fine line. Here are some tips to keep you sorted on the road.
1. Pass Extremely Carefully
It never ceases to amaze me when I see big trucks hurtling by me in the fast lane on mountain roads-roads they do not know know like the backs of their hands, but again, too much confidence can be dangerous in this business. Big trucks have huge blind spots and it's easy to miss the presence of a tiny vehicle on the road, especially on a windy road. Always be 100% positive about how many vehicles are around and where they are before making a safe pass.
2. Be Ready for the Road
While most drivers are responsible professionals, the job is taxing on both the body and mind, and it's extremely important to keep both finely tuned. Make sure you get adequate sleep, healthy meals, and regular exercise so that you are fully ready for your driving duties and all the variables that come along with them.
This evenly applies to your vehicle. Be over-diligent about maintenance and check the entire rig more often than is required.
3. Go at or under the Speed Limit
With a time crunch and superiors breathing down your neck, it can be tempting to go faster than legal or safe, but speeding is one of the most common causes of trucking accidents. Big rigs have a much longer-needed stopping distance, and if a truck is going too fast and suddenly brakes, there is a real danger of jackknifing, which is extremely dangerous for you and anyone around. Always stick to the speed limit posted for big trucks, and if you're ever in doubt, go slower than is necessary.
4. Make Super Slow Turns
Your speed is especially important when taking big turns as your berth will be much wider than a smaller vehicle's. If anyone is beside you, you run the risk of pushing them out of their lane with your trailer. And even if you go a little too fast and just edge towards them, the other driver may panic and it can cause an accident that did not need to happen.
Again, this is all stuff truckers know, and in fact does not even scratch the surface of what only experience can teach. But when we do something day in and day out, we tend to fall into a routine, and if nothing has ever gone wrong before, we tend to stop taking it as seriously. So keep these in mind the next time you head out, and be that much more careful about getting back home safely.