Freight drivers, particularly of the long haul variety, are an essential component of the freight forwarding process. Long haul drivers ensure that goods and materials to be transported by road arrive at your doorstep safely.
Although freight drivers are indispensable in the world of shipping and logistics, over the road driving can be a dangerous job. While the road certainly offers freedom and flexibility, there is always the constant pressure to deliver freight on time, which can make safety an issue for drivers.
Unfortunately, it is quite common for fatal accidents involving large freight trucks to occur. Most of these fatalities can be avoided by following basic safety tips that can help truck drivers steer clear of dangerous situations while on the road.
10 Safety tips for long distance freight drivers
Pre-trip truck inspection
Before you start your journey, check every component of your truck to make certain that everything is where it is supposed to be. Check that your horns are working, the breaks are in great condition and fluid levels are ok, and so on. Giving it a thorough look over will give you the peace of mind necessary to drive safely.
Avoid distractions at all costs
Paying attention to the road is probably the most basic tip for any driver but it is often the most ignored. Long haul drivers must keep an eye out for any potentially dangerous situations such as roadblocks. However, they must do so while paying attention to the road.
Ensure that you keep both your hands on the steering wheel, maintaining them at the 9 and 3 o’clock position to give you maximum steering wheel movement. If you are using a navigation app such as Google Maps, make sure that you stop and park in a safe place first before you start adjusting your settings or entering route information.
Take it slow
Although you must always try your hardest to succeed in every task assigned to you, remember that no freight is worth endangering your life for or of other road users. Whether there is too much traffic, the weather is too hot or other road user’s tempers are flaring, you should consider taking a second to breathe and take a cool gulp of water before doing anything drastic-cooler heads always prevail, after all.
Keep your lights clean
Make sure that you keep your headlights clean at all times when driving. Your lights are critical for maintaining your safety, especially on isolated roads at night. Bright lights that can be observed from a distance are essential because they help other motorists see your incoming truck sooner. It also gives other drivers more time to adjust in the event of any potential hazards before it is too late.
Freight drivers should load and unload safely
During loading, the truck should be turned off and chock blocks should be applied for added security. Do not re-start your truck or pull out until you have verified that the process of loading or unloading has indeed been completed and that no workers are still loading the trailer. Before starting your journey, always check that the freight is secured properly.
Wear your seat belt at all times
It is critical that you wear a properly adjusted seat belt throughout when driving. Seat belts are the most effective device that a long haul trucker can use to maintain safety always.
Be smart about your driving capabilities
Even though you may have been driving for years, it is vital to be smart about your driving aptitude and capabilities. Even if you are fairly sure that you can drive through bad weather conditions, do not risk your life by attempting it. Consider cutting your speed down by a third when driving in the rain and slow down whenever you approach work zones or if you find yourself in the midst of a construction zone.
Maintain the speed limit
Maintain the speed limit to guarantee your safety and that of others around you. If you can, travel at 100 KPH or lower but always check to see if any speed limits have been posted on the road that you are traveling on. Based on your current driving conditions, you can adjust your speed level to a safer one or increase it as you see fit.
The best Freight drivers invest in sunglasses
Sunglasses help to take care of blinding glares caused by the sun or by light reflecting off other vehicles or buildings. Sunglasses that have curved lenses can protect the front and the sides while a thin frame can free up your peripheral vision. When approaching a tunnel, always remove your sunglasses for maximum vision.
Overcome your fatigue
Driver drowsiness is also responsible for numerous road accidents. If you are driving for more than 8 hours, make sure that you take at least a 30 minute break during the first 7 or 8 hours of your shift. Although caffeine, energy drinks and miraa (khat) have known to help, these products should be used in moderation to avoid eventual burnout.
Bonus tip: Good freight drivers are healthy
Keeping yourself safe and healthy is especially paramount if you are to have a successful trucking career. Maintain a healthy diet, work out, and most of all get enough sleep whenever on duty because fatigue and drowsiness are a major concern for drivers who deal with long distances.