Truck drivers may be pros, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to accidents. In fact, in 2020 alone, there had been 415,000 reported accidents involving large trucks, in the US alone. The actual number is probably even higher, and to make matters worse -- 4,000 people in the US lose their lives in truck accidents each year.
One of the reasons trucks and truckers are involved in so many accidents is time spent on the road -- truckers usually drive longer hours, cover longer distances, and are generally more present on the road than, say, non-commercial drivers.
But just as with other drivers, there are things truckers can do to stay safe, especially when preparing for longer drives. Here are a few pointers:
Do not exceed maximum driving time
Every country has laws regulating the maximum time a trucker can spend driving the vehicle, and drivers should not risk exceeding this limit. In the USA, for example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published the “Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service”, which states truckers can drive up to 11 consecutive hours if certain conditions are met.
Go for short walks when feeling tired
The good news when driving a truck is that you can almost always pull over and get some rest. If you’re well within your legal limits, the breaks don’t have to be particularly long. A five-minute break in which you’ll go for a short walk, just to stretch your legs and back, will suffice. It will get the blood flowing and strengthen your focus. Many truckers need to plan their breaks, but don’t really spend them walking around.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is probably the best way to keep your focus, without the need to use any drugs or supplements that might be detrimental to your health. Doctors recommend males drink up to 3 liters of water a day, and females up to 2.5 liters, so keep it in mind when going for a long drive. Having a bottle of water besides the steering wheel won’t hurt. Toilet breaks can also be used to stretch your legs and back!
Office workers are always encouraged to work out because they spend most of their working hours at a desk. Apart from switching the keyboard with a steering wheel, truckers are no different (in fact, they often spend longer hours sitting, compared to their office-bound peers!). For that reason, truckers should also be encouraged to work out, as not only will that strengthen their legs and back, improve their posture and circulation, but it will also improve their mood and focus, which are essential for a safe drive.
Arm yourself with tech
While on the road, technology can be a distraction, but it can also be extremely helpful. Things like global positioning services (GPS) and navigation maps, dash cams for truckers, telematics, Bluetooth speakers, and Wi-Fi hotspots, can all be used to improve the experience of truckers, have them focus on the road ahead, minimize the risk of getting lost, suffering an accident, or miscommunicating with the rest of their fleet. Just make sure that the tech helps minimize the distractions, and does not facilitate them!
Mind the truck space cushion
The cushion is the space around the vehicle that helps the trucker maneuver around, if the need arises. In other words, truckers should make sure they’re not driving in other people’s boot, and that other vehicles around them keep a safe distance. While it’s not always possible to dictate how other people drive, staying in your lane, keeping a steady pace, and keeping your distance from the vehicle ahead, is a good place to start.
Not worth the risk
Trucking is the backbone of every economy, and many businesses rely on their truckers to deliver the goods on time, and in good shape. However, no money is worth the risk of accident, which is why every trucker should be mindful of the tips shared here.