Being a truck driver is by no means an easy job. Beyond having to drive for hours upon hours in a single sitting, while being responsible for incredibly valuable cargo, there are a number of pitfalls and inherent risks that you have to be aware of every time you step behind the wheel of such an expansive vehicle.
The sad reality is that most truck drivers are perpetually unaware of these risks on their day to day work trips, and it is because of this negligence and lack of foresight that around 4000 people die annually from truck accidents across the US.
Regardless if you are already an experienced truck driver, or if you are just starting out, you should definitely keep these following road hazards in mind for the next time you go behind the wheel of a truck.
Failing to pay attention to your surroundings is usually a prime cause of highway injuries, and in the case of truck accidents, this holds even more ground. While the causes can be numerous, you should never allow yourself to be distracted while you are driving your truck. Even just one second of negligence can be catastrophic.
Due to the considerable size, weight, and length of your vehicle, maintaining control of it is no easy task under normal circumstances, but when you add a distracted driver in the mix, things can quickly turn catastrophic.
Trucks don’t allow you the easy maneuverability of regular-sized cars, so the option of making life-saving, split-second turns and brakes is completely off the table. Therefore, make sure that the road, and your vehicle’s position on it, are your only concern.
Long-haul truck drivers expose themselves to an incredibly strenuous work process, with weekly work shifts that can reach up to 60 hours in length.
Because of this exhausting work schedule, truck drivers usually expose themselves to the immense risks of driver fatigue, one of the most dangerous attacks on their in-traffic attention span. Studies have shown that a truck driver should not be engaging in more than 10 to 11 hours of continuous driving, due to the visible effect this can have on their reaction times.
As such, if you have a long road ahead of you, it would be advisable to invest in an overnight stay at a hotel or similar housing establishment at your trip’s halfway point. You should never force your body to drive more than it is capable, lest you become a danger to your own health, and to that of other drivers.
While it might seem like getting from point A to point B as fast as possible should be your top-most priority in your job, that should not come at the expense of safety. Driving a truck at high speeds is one of the riskiest and most irresponsible acts you can engage in as a driver.
Once again, because of their physical nature, putting the brakes on a truck is not as easy as doing so on a small or medium-sized car. Therefore, a direct impact collision usually proves fatal to all of the vehicles’ passengers.
It is vital that you, as a truck driver, maintain a responsible distance between the other vehicles populating a busy highway. Even if you might have certain portions of the road where it would feel safe to accelerate, you never know what congestion could be hiding at the next U-turn or intersection.
Slowing down, being precocious, and taking the necessary time to safely navigate the highway will have paid off immensely by the time that you would have reached your destination. A half-hour time difference is nothing when it comes to the potential expense of your health and safety.
Assuring yourself that your truck has all of its components checked and in optimal condition should be a consistent priority, or you risk exposing yourself to a potentially disastrous defect every time you leave for the road.
A useful maintenance checklist to keep in mind:
- Make sure that your brakes are in perfect working order
- Make sure that your fuel levels can sustain the entirety of your trip, or at the very least, plan a gas station stop hours before you would run out of fuel
- Assure yourself that your truck’s tires are season-appropriate, in sturdy condition, and keep at least one spare with you at all times
- Never leave for the road with broken or shattered mirrors – trucks are especially susceptible to driver blind spots because of their size, so you need to assure visibility as much as you can
- Invest in rear and side guards for your truck – they will be the key to preventing accidents such as under-rides
The many weather hazards that you could be facing on the road include, but are not limited to, slippery roads following a downpour, ice or sleet-covered highways, or even severe debris – such as fallen trees or crashed electricity poles.
No matter what type of obstacle you would be facing, you have to ensure that the necessary preventive precautions have been taken, so you may continue to do your job without any imminent risk.
First, ensure that you are using your vehicle’s lights to their fullest extent. Maintain your blinker light on for a bit longer when you are turning to a different lane, to ensure the visibility of your truck.
If the weather is foggy, use your blinker lights in order to establish a safe distance from other moving vehicles, but do so responsibly, to avoid blinding any drivers that might be coming from the other direction. Moreover, if visibility is no longer guaranteed, you should find a safe spot and immediately stop your vehicle until it is safe for you to head back on the road.
All things considered, you should always keep a critical and responsible outlook in mind when considering your responsibilities as a truck driver. The vehicle you command has the power to cause irreparable damages to both yourself and to other parties, and your potential negligence can lead you to become accountable for legal damages and compensation.
A law firm that is specialized in cases of truck accidents, such as pintas.com, can inform you on any potential situations where you, as the truck driver, could be held accountable for the damages that you caused, as well as instructing you as to what options you have to prevent such situations from occurring in the first place.
It is your utmost duty as a truck driver to ensure that you do not cause any of the potential risks that we have discussed above. Truck driving is a job unlike any other, and it should be treated with the respect and due diligence it deserves.