Commercial drivers have to be constantly vigilant to detect unexpected road conditions, distracted drivers, and motorists who don’t understand how commercial vehicles operate. Scan ahead about 15 seconds (a quarter mile on interstates, or one to two blocks in cities) for traffic issues, work zones, and other dangers.
Check mirrors every 8-10 seconds to be aware of vehicles entering your blind spots. Signal and brake to give other drivers plenty of time to notice your intent. If you must pull off the road, use flashers and reflective triangles to alert approaching drivers to slow down.
Driving too fast during weather conditions is very dangerous. Failure to slow down for curves or exit ramps create risks such as rollovers and crashes. Make sure that pre-trip safety inspections are completed. Particularly inspect tires and brakes. Your life depends on them.
Inspect that your load is well balanced and secure. An improper load accommodation can cause a rollover, loss of control or damage to the load. Loose materials that fall on the road can be very dangerous. Use your safety belt every time, as those save lives, reduce injuries, and allow drivers to stay inside and in control of their vehicles in case of a crash. In 2014, 30% of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes were partially or totally ejected from their vehicles.
Get enough rest; don’t drive when you’re fatigued, or too ill to focus. Do not take medications that make you drowsy or dizzy, as it does not allow you to have enough concentration to control a truck. Stay up to date on weather and road conditions, detours, and mountainous routes in order to plan driving time.
Work zones present many hazards, like lane shifts, sudden stops, uneven road surfaces, moving workers and equipment, and confused passenger vehicle drivers. It’s vital to take work zone safety seriously. Slow down, maintain extra following space, and to be prepared to stop.
Obey all work zone signs and signals.
Scan ahead for changing traffic patterns, and be alert to vehicles entering your blind spots.
Keep a sharp eye out for road workers and flag crews.
Never drive distracted. Texting is among the worst driving distractions. The odds of being involved in a crash, near-crash, or unintentional lane deviation are 23.2 times greater for truck and bus drivers who are texting while driving.
Research shows that drivers texting while driving took their eyes off the forward road for 4.6 seconds on average. At 55 mph, this equates to traveling 371 feet (more than the length of a football field) without looking at the road.
It is illegal for a commercial driver to text while driving, and there are restrictions on using mobile phones (devices must be hands free, and dialed using no more than one button). Eating, drinking, interacting with a navigational device, map reading, controlling a pet, or any other activity that takes focus off the road can also be a deadly distraction.
If you must attend to an activity other than driving, get off at the next exit or pullover – it’s not worth the risk.