Road safety is of paramount importance in the trucking industry.
According to statistics, trucking accidents cost fleets nearly $57 billion in 2017 — covering expenses such as medical bills, vehicle repairs, and lost productivity due to downtimes.
Companies also pay up to 33 percent higher insurance rates after an accident that directly caused injuries. Unfortunately, only 42.6 percent of carriers employ driver safety programs to lower the risk of road accidents.
Following are 8 driving safety tips that can increase road safety and reduce the risk of accidents.
1. Be mindful of blind spots
Visibility is key to preventing road accidents, especially if you’re operating a large commercial vehicle, which has more blind spots that a passenger vehicle.
Minimize lane changing and check your side mirrors at least once every ten seconds can be an effective way to increase safety and road awareness.
It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the blind spots not only of your truck but also of other vehicles on the road.
Here is an infographic that will help you understand how a commercial driver has limited visibility on all four sides because of the large blind spots around the front, back, and sides of the vehicle.
2. Understand the safe braking distance
The bigger the rig, the longer it takes to stop. In comparison to an average-sized car, it takes an 18-wheeler 40% longer to stop completely. For example, a fully loaded tractor-trailer that is going on 55 MPH on dry pavement will travel to approximately 390 more feet in 4.5 seconds before stopping.
For new drivers who are accustomed to driving smaller vehicles, it may take some time for them to get used to the braking distance of large commercial vehicles.
3. Avoid distracted driving
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of road accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that delayed driver reaction causes 90 percent of rear-end accidents.
Truck drivers need to be extra vigilant since they’re operating larger vehicles that are harder to maneuver, take longer to decelerate, and have more blind spots or “No Zones.”
Every manner of distracted driving, be it texting, smoking, or using mobile apps, must be avoided at all costs to increase road safety.
4. Let tailgaters overtake you
Sometimes, the only way to avoid road accidents is to steer clear of other drivers who are either too aggressive or just outright reckless.
Tailgaters, for instance, are drivers who drive too close to your vehicle — depriving themselves the adequate amount of space needed to decelerate in case you need to make a sudden stop.
Instead of accelerating to make way for space the other driver needs to operate safely, a better approach is to switch to a different lane, if possible, and let the tailgater overtake you. Just don’t forget to use your turn signals and watch out for other vehicles and hazards on the road.
5. Follow the road signs
Road signs are there for a reason.
You don’t just follow speed limits and be aware of the vehicles in front of and around you. To add to your level of safety, you also need to pay close attention to the road signs and local traffic rules in the area.
Plenty of truck drivers — unintentionally or otherwise — occasionally go over the enforced speed limit. This may cause them to lose control of their vehicle when maneuvering through sudden, sharp curves, uneven surfaces, construction hazards, and other road irregularities.
6. Follow the hours-of-service rules
The hours-of-service rules are there to help drivers, minimize driver fatigue, and increase road safety.
Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of road accidents. Driving past your hours-of-service limit is not only risky but also leads to HOS violations. Make sure you are always in compliance.
7. Avoid hard braking, acceleration, and cornering
Critical safety events, such as hard braking, acceleration, and cornering, are more common than you think.
Fleets can initiate driver training programs to promote good driving habits and reduce the number of hard cornering, hard braking, and excessive acceleration events.
For more information, read the top 10 states with the most unsafe driving behaviors.
Fleets can also increase road safety by monitoring drivers for critical safety events, such as hard braking, speeding, excessive acceleration, and hard cornering.
The KeepTruckin ELD solution has a driver scorecards feature, which ranks drivers according to their safety scores and performance. Fleet and safety managers can easily identify drivers with low safety scores that require immediate coaching and increase road safety.
The next time you are on the road, keep these tips in mind. For more information and driving safety tips, consult the CDL manual.