Trucking is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, with some of the highest fatalities, accidents, and injuries on the job. Research estimates that the trucking industry will become the fifth largest cause of death in the United States. Nonetheless, it is a lucrative business, as well as a major source of income for many people.
Whether you are a truck driver or you own a trucking business with a fleet of vehicles, it is important to improve your safety and that of your drivers while on the road. By minimizing the risk of damage and accidents, you will also reduce the costs incurred on repairs. Here are some of the best truck care tips off and on the road that will keep you or your drivers safe while on the road.
- Practice defensive driving
Defensive driving and truckers should go hand in hand. As a truck driver, you should always watch for potential hazards or road conditions. By anticipating potentially unsafe situations and making better decisions behind the wheel, you will reduce the risk of getting involved in an accident and sustaining injuries.
Most defensive driving truckers say that it is important to watch out for blind spots while driving. Blind spots are areas that a driver cannot directly see while behind the wheel. They are also major causes of road accidents. Some truck drivers operate trailers that make it difficult to see cars behind them. Since the rear and side-view mirrors are not 100 percent effective, truck drivers are encouraged to look over their shoulders or out of the windows when they want to merge lanes.
Another tip for defensive driving is preparing for emergencies, especially when driving long distances. Conditions change unexpectedly, so; you should always make provisions for such situations. You can stock your cab with essentials like first aid, snacks, water, spare clothes, and blankets. Remember that when you doubt your truck’s performance, bad weather, or poor road conditions, it’s best to slow your truck down. Slowing down will help you respond better to any unexpected occurrences and help be more in control in case of an accident.
Your mental health is important. While there may be times when other drivers upset you, it’s best to desist from engaging in road rage. Such behavior can distract you and cause you to carelessly weave in and out of traffic putting you more at risk of getting involved in an accident.
- Take rests and breaks
Tiredness is one of the common causes of accidents involving truck drivers. Several factors contribute to fatigue like health, age, diet, and biological clock. It also depends on how long you have been on the road and environmental conditions. When you fail to rest, you are not putting your life in danger, but other drivers and pedestrians. Fatigue can impair your judgment, and you can make poor decisions behind the wheel.
The first sign of tiredness is yawning, especially yawning, which is frequent. If you are starting to feel uncomfortable in your seat or maintaining a certain speed, those could indicate that you are tired. You must pull aside to the nearest rest stop and rest or stretch your legs in such instances.
If you own a truck business, you can ensure that your drivers are safe by scheduling travel times that are beneficial to them and ensuring that they meet your customers’ deadlines. Sometimes, truck drivers are pressured to transport goods in poor health. What you can do is create more appropriate schedules, organize training sessions, and provide comfortable trucks with ample rest space for your drivers.
- Equip your truck with the right tools
As a truck driver, you will spend a large chunk of your time on the road. While you are not required to have a mechanical skill, it’s always useful to learn a few tips and tricks for those moments where seeking help seems impossible. If you like to always stay prepared, you will need some tools to make your travels much easier.
You will need a toolbox that can carry all the essential tools needed for a trip. It would be best to get a toolbox that has several slots that make it easier for you to store and retrieve at any time. You will also need a pair of gloves and at least two flashlights to keep your hands warm and give your extra light if you need to inspect your truck at night. You will also need a set of wrenches that come in different shapes and sizes, as well as a screwdriver set and a pair of wire cutters. Ensure that you always have a first aid kit in your truck. You will never know when to treat a wound while on the road.
- Wash your truck regularly
Not many people put much thought into washing their trucks and only do so when it becomes extremely dirty. But several hidden benefits come with cleaning your truck regularly.
Dust and debris don’t seem to be big deals. However, they can become significant along the way, especially when it accumulates over an extended period. When left unattended, it can damage your truck’s paint, thereby exposing its exterior against harsh weather elements. It could also lead to rust, which can damage your truck’s engine. A truck covered in rust will also have a lower resale value when you decide to sell it.
Washing your truck also ensures that you remain safe while driving. Dirt can make driving more difficult by covering your windows and affecting your visibility, especially in the dark. Poor visibility can increase your risk of getting into an accident by 30% or more, with dust being one of its common causes.
So, how often should you wash your truck? Because of tight deadlines, you do not need to wash your truck every day. You can have it thoroughly washed at least every one to two weeks. By doing so, your truck’s exterior will be in top shape. However, if you ply more unpaved roads than usual, you might have to get your car washed a bit more regularly.
- Routine maintenance practices
Regular maintenance inspections reduce the chances of your truck breaking down and ensure that your car is always in peak condition. When your truck isn’t up-to-date with regular inspections like brake pad or oil changes, it becomes susceptible to breaking down while on the job. When your truck breaks down, it can put you in a dangerous situation, especially if you are stranded on a quiet road.
Regular maintenance also eliminates incurring additional expenses with unwanted repairs and expensive replacements. By constantly inspecting your truck, you can check to see any minor problems like leaks, wear and tear, and cracks. You must also check your fluids, as their levels drop and their ability to reduce friction diminishes over a period. By adopting maintenance practices, you can obtain data with useful information on your truck’s mileage breakdown history and also anticipate future problems.
- Insure your truck with the right plan
As a truck driver or business owner, you must insure your trucks. Fortunately, many insurance companies have recognized the risks involved with trucking and have developed tailored insurance packages for truck drivers and trucking companies.
All truckers are legally required to have primary auto liability, which will protect you if a third party is injured in an accident. Some insurance companies also offer general liability, which covers you when the cause of damage is something else instead of a vehicle. General liability also covers third-party injuries. Non-trucking liability or Bobtail coverage covers the truck when used for personal trips (returning home from a dispatched trip). Other packages include physical damage coverage (for damages caused by theft, natural disasters, vandalism, or collision) and trailer interchange (damage to trailers).
Just like regular maintenance routines, you must also review your truck’s insurance policy as much as possible. This tip will help you ensure that your coverage and its conditions are regularly updated and meet your current needs.
- Check your truck’s lights
Your truck’s lights are extremely important, as they help you see clearly in the dark, as well as in unfavorable weather conditions like fog. A good lighting system increases your likelihood of seeing where you are going and what is ahead of you.
Before you set off, ensure that you check your lights to see their performance. You might need someone to check if your taillights are working. Most vehicle experts recommend using LED bulbs for your truck’s lighting because they have a higher lifespan than an HID bulb. However, LEDs are tiny, so you might need more to power up your truck’s lights. You must also test your fog lights, which are most useful in colder or foggier weather.
Your safety and your drivers’ matter, especially when they are out on the road. Ensure that you are always adequately protected before getting behind the wheel. Accidents are inevitable, but you can always control how much damage it makes by practicing these care tips. If you are in an accident, you can speak with an 18-wheeler injury attorney for more advice and support.