By using everyday common sense, truck driver accident prevention can happen!
For new truck drivers starting out on their own as solo drivers (without a team partner or driver trainer), here are some tips I can offer you which may be helpful, to avoid unnecessary accidents, or as the insurance companies like to call them, preventable accidents.
You’ll realize that once you’ve managed to get through the initial truck driving training program, and the trucking company gives you a rig of your own to drive for the first time, you’ll find a whole new set of challenges.
We’ve compiled some easy to remember tips, useful for new CDL drivers and reminders for experienced drivers, on keeping the rubber side up.
1. Move Slowly. You’re now a professional driver. The #1 rule is to take your time.
Whatever you are doing, do it slowly and methodically. Whether you’re coming and going from a truck stop, pulling in and out of the drop yard, looking for a customer or backing your rig into a loading dock.
No matter what you are doing in your daily routine as a professional truck driver, I can’t emphasize the importance of moving slowly and thinking through about what you are doing.
Speed is often a major contributing factor in many preventable accidents.
2. Be Thorough. Make sure you’ve covered all your bases and there’s nothing you’re forgetting like checking your blind spots, a complete circle check etc.
Keep an eye on the entire vehicle as you’re just leaving the yard. This is a situation when some drivers take for granted where there are no obstacles.
Watch constantly. You need to watch the entire vehicle, not just around the front of the vehicle.
3. Trip Plan. Another challenge you’ll encounter, now that you’re on the road alone, is looking for your delivery destination.
Even when you’ve done your due diligence and planned for your trip and become familiar with the location of the customer on your map and/or GPS, this can still be very stressful.
Driving in traffic and locating a destination where you’ve never been before can be a scary.
This can be quite stressful for experienced truckers, even after years of doing it. But, it will get easier as time goes on. Best tip for a new driver is to make trip planning a part of your daily routine.
4. Get a Road Map and Use It. One of the best tips, but one which new drivers and experienced truckers tend to ignore, is taking the time to get a good quality road map.
A GPS is a great tool, but they’re not the ultimate tool. They sometimes make mistakes.
Be sure to get a road map and compare it to what the GPS is telling you.
5. Call the Customer for Directions. Before going in to deliver your load, call the receiver/customer and get directions to the delivery location.
Don’t talk to the receptionist, talk to the receiver: the guys that are guiding trucks in and out every day.
Then, compare what they’re telling you with the map and GPS. You then have 3 points of reference, so you minimize your chances of making mistakes.
It is not fun driving around in a tractor trailer in a residential zone or being lost in an unsafe area.
Looking for a delivery location can be extra challenging if the customer is located in a highly populated area.
There’s a chance you may also need to deliver in an older area where the streets are narrow, the corners are tight and the bridges are low.
The secret here again is to move along slowly and take your time. Keep your eyes peeled.
6. Walk Into Your Delivery Area and Study It. When you do find your customer, park on the street, walk in and have a look at where you’ll be backing the trailer in, study the layout look for obstacles that might be your road that end up in your blind spots when you’re backing in.
Look at the area to see if there’s a way to avoid blind siding when backing in. This tip can save you surprises.
7. Don’t Trust Your Spotter. When backing up your truck and you have a spotter, there’s something you should remember.
9 times out of 10, the spotter is watching only one part of the truck.
Chances are he’s not watching for overhead clearance and he’s not watching your front right corner.
He’s likely just watching the back end of the trailer or a small section of the area. BEWARE.
Even though his intentions may be good, don’t trust him completely.
Get out of your truck often and have a look for yourself. This is especially important if you’re blind siding in.
Take the time to get out and look numerous times, so you don’t hit anything.
There are far too many preventable accidents, many caused by excess speed and the backing up maneuver.
Yes, accidents do happen, but the majority of accidents can be avoided by adopting some simple common sense thinking.