How Can Truck Drivers Prevent Accidents?
According to the US Department of Transportation – FMSA statistics, 4,657 large trucks got involved in fatal accidents in 2017. The same statistics show that 56,422 and 102,973 large trucks were part of injury crashes and tow-away crashes respectively.
While truck drivers usually fare better than passenger vehicle drivers in crashes, they are also at risk according to the FMSA. For instance, in 2017, 871 large truck occupants (drivers and their passengers) died in truck accidents representing a 16% increase from fatalities in 2016. Most importantly, 85% of occupant fatalities in truck accidents in 2017 were drivers.
It’s in everyone’s best interests, including truck drivers, to prevent accidents. As a truck driver, there are tips you can consider to reduce your chances of getting into accidents. We’ve discussed the most important tips below:
Observe speed limits
The weight of large trucks makes over speeding more lethal in case of a collision. The force produced is usually fatal when passenger cars are involved. You should observe speed limits seriously and maintain reasonable speed when the limits appear too high depending on the cargo you are carrying, weather, truck condition, etc.
Part of being a great trucker is meeting deadlines and delivering cargo to new destinations. While passenger vehicle drivers can get away with experiments, it’s important for a trucker to know the route beforehand for many reasons. For instance, trucks may be required to use other roads, exits, entrances, and underpasses. Knowing what to expect can prevent accidents and delays. While gadgets like GPS can help, they may not offer the “full picture” and priceless information needed by truckers. It’s recommendable to compare GPS with route maps to avoid surprises that increase the risk of accidents.
Connect with your customer ahead of time
While most fatal truck accidents happen on highways, trucks need to exit highways and use local roads to get to warehouses, retailers, and other delivery destinations. Local roads present equal (if not more) risk of collisions with passenger vehicles. Staying in touch with your customer ahead of time can let you know what to expect. You can get priceless information like weather conditions and specific road hazards to look out for, parking availability, etc.
Use a spotter, but don’t over-rely on them
When looking for overhead clearance or obstacles when reversing, you need a spotter. Unless you have the latest tech in your truck, you’ll need a lookout. However, don’t over-rely on them as their advice may only apply to a specific part or side of your truck. It’s your job to watch every spot.
Get enough rest
While it’s tempting to take extra shifts and work longer than you are supposed to legally. The FMCSA has interstate guidelines for truck drivers stipulating the hours of service clearly. Adhering to these guidelines reduces accident risks for both truckers and other road users. You should take the recommended breaks and sleep since studies have shown that 13% of truckers are usually fatigued at the time of the accident.
Don’t drink and/or use drugs while driving
This is an obvious but commonly overlooked tip. Truck drivers are often tempted to use stimulant drugs like cocaine and amphetamines to stay alert for longer hours. However, this introduces serious risks. While the drugs may keep you alert longer, your body will still need rest. This explains why drugs are a leading cause of trucker fatigue. You risk clouding your judgment and taking unnecessary risks like over speeding and making unsafe lane changes. Your chances of falling asleep uncontrollably also increase tenfold when the drugs wear off.
Truck drivers should have undivided focus on the road when driving. You shouldn’t text or perform other tasks that can distract you. Trucking companies and most states have specific rules that drivers must follow to minimize distractions. Follow these rules religiously to avoid accidents.
Know your truck
A commercial driver’s license isn’t enough to keep accidents at bay. You must be familiar with how your truck operates normally to notice maintenance issues ahead of time. Brake failure, steering problems, and broken cargo restraints are leading maintenance issues known to cause truck accidents. If you take time to know your truck, you’ll notice rattles and funny noises that are an indicator of problems. Even basic information such as tire size and weight of the truck can be helpful in ensuring you inflate tires correctly and avoid overloading.
Know your cargo
Lastly, you should know what you are carrying. If that’s not possible, focus on the basics i.e., how heavy your cargo is, the dimensions, flammability, and fragility. Cargo can contribute to accidents directly or indirectly. For instance, you can’t load your truck safely if you don’t know how heavy the cargo is or what form the cargo is in (solid or liquid). Liquid cargo can be dangerous if packed incorrectly.
The above tips will reduce your risk of getting into an accident significantly. If you take all these measures but still get into an accident and get injured, consult a personal injury lawyer.
Truck accident injuries caused by another driver’s fault should be settled fairly. Unfortunately, insurance companies won’t pay you for your injuries without a “fight”! Call seasoned lawyers like Oberheiden Law with a proven record of winning high settlements for victims of truck accidents. Consultation is FREE and non-obligatory. You’ll also pay only if Oberheiden truck accident lawyers win the case.