Safety on shift is not a guarantee when you land your CDL. The vigilance you feel as you prepared for your license test will fade, and experience will build, however too often we become more comfortable than we should behind the wheel of our big rigs. If you’re used driving through congested cities, you might experience a “shrinking truck” sensation as you become more familiar and comfortable maneuvering through tight, busy streets, yet the physics don’t change; it’s still a massive amount of weight to shift or stop. While there are a significant number of risks truckers face each time they climb behind the wheel, the following 6 tips can help mitigate those which are within a driver’s control.
Seems simple enough, but according to a study performed by AAA, more than 35% of all drivers in the US are receiving less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night, and under 5 hours of sleep causes reaction times similar to that of drunk drivers. Especially when traveling over the road, set a bed time for yourself to ensure you get ample sleep before your next shift.
Keep your “office” clean.
Slips and falls are common non-driving accidents occurring often while entering/exiting the tractor. Put all paperwork and accumulated trash away from the floor pan, and keep a good grip on handles as you climb in and exit to keep from being sidelined by a pulled muscle or slipped disc.
Check Rig Before/After Shift.
At a rest stop at the end of the shift, don’t ditch the truck immediately; make sure you didn’t leave extra lights on, no fluids leaking, and take a moment to walk around the rig to visually inspect for tire damage, all lug bolts present, or any physical damage to safety equipment such as supplemental lighting houses, et cetera. This doesn’t free you of running your checklist before you depart at the beginning of your next shift, it just gives you a leg up if you need to get your truck serviced quickly.
Lock The Doors.
Before jumping into the sleeper berth for some R&R, be sure to lock the doors. Brazen thieves may still attempt to enter your vehicle even if they suspect someone is inside.
According to Samsara data, most aggressive driving occurs in the first and final 10% of a driver’s shift. This includes aggressive acceleration and braking, tailgating, and distracted driving. If your equipment is able, turn on in-cab alerts for notification of abnormal or aggressive acceleration and braking. According to Samsara, these alerts can reduce aggressive maneuvers in this timeframe by up to 40%.
Scan the road beyond your braking threshold. On curvy roads, look ahead to the next curve and plan your speed accordingly. On highways and straightaways, look as much as 15 seconds ahead, or at highway speeds, as many as 4 football fields ahead for upcoming traffic conditions, construction, or hazards.
Whether you’ve been in the cab 2 months or 2 decades, continually revisiting safety protocols will help keep your attention high as you build your experience. If you are looking for a new truck insurance company or need to adjust your trucker insurance policy coverage, contact ENGS Insurance Agency for an insurance coverage review and quote.