In a world where drivers increasingly are becoming distracted by technology—and courtesy on the road isn’t what it used to be—we asked people with CDL driver jobs the million-dollar question: How can drivers make the road friendlier?
Here are the most popular answers from the truck drivers we surveyed, with a few of our own answers added.
Try practicing these suggestions and see how much friendlier your life on the road becomes.
1. Turn your CB back on.
Communicate accidents, weather and construction delays. Offer help with parking or backing into a dock. There are so many reasons a driver could use a hand. Use your CB for good and see what comes of it.
2. Smile and wave.
Drivers used to do this a lot more back in the good ‘ol days. The truth is, a simple smile or wave when passing another truck could make all the difference in a driver’s day. Give it a try sometime. As one truck driver said, “in order to be a community, we must communicate.”
3. Maintain a safe following distance.
Keep in mind, trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and may need up to 100 yards to stop. When the vehicle in front of you passes a fixed object, you should be able to count at least two seconds before you pass the same object. Too many times, cars cut trucks off or trail too closely behind them.
4. Be aware of a truck’s blind spots.
A truck has blind spots up to 20 feet in front of the tractor, anywhere along the sides of the trailer and up to 200 feet behind the trailer. When passing a truck, don’t move back into your lane until you can see both truck headlights in your rearview mirror.
5. Respect goes a long way.
Always help other truck drivers in need when you can. You never know when you’ll be able to make a difference in someone’s life, however small it may seem. Small gestures like letting a truck pass or spreading the word about problems ahead can set a strong example for others to follow and brighten a fellow driver’s day.
6. Move over for emergency vehicles.
When you approach a stopped emergency vehicle with lights flashing, state law requires that you move a lane away from the emergency vehicle or slow down 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
7. Don’t judge.
Look beyond race, gender and fashion sense to what lies at a driver’s core. Truck drivers are judged enough as it is. Why judge your colleagues all the more?
8. When in a construction zone, drive the posted speed limit.
State departments of transportation tout the “3 S’s” of managing work zones safely: speed, space and stress. Managing these three factors can make driving in a construction zone much easier. Leave adequate braking room between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. Also, keep a safe distance between your truck and traffic barriers, construction equipment and workers.
9. Pay attention.
In today’s world, it’s easy to get distracted at the wheel. According to Distraction.gov, in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. While texting and driving often is the main distraction that comes to mind, distracted driving doesn’t end there. Things as fleeting as adjusting the radio or reaching for your coffee can have dire consequences, too. By paying attention at the wheel, drivers can make the roads safer, and friendlier, for everyone.
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