Defensive Driving: 5 Tips for Truckers

The best offense is a good defense⁠—and when it comes to being a safe truck driver, this old sports saying certainly holds true. Keeping you, your truck, other motorists, and your cargo safe is how truckers win on the road. There are many ways to improve your skills and reduce your risks while on the road. Here are 5 defensive driving tips for truckers everywhere.

1. Minimize distractions

Every driver needs to be connected, but not to the point where connections are distractions. Phones beeping with notifications too often, or non-critical calls coming in too frequently should be minimized. If you have something going on at home that’s distracting you, do your best to put it out of your mind until you’re done working. Many of these things are easier said than done for a truck driver with hours of time alone each day.

You don’t want to fall into bad habits while driving. So it’s smart to work on minimizing your distractions and being a safe driver.

2. Keep yourself healthy

Wearing your seat belt every day helps keep you secure in the cab of your truck. Getting enough sleep helps you pay better attention while driving. Eating right and exercising keeps you in better shape to have stamina for long days over the road. Keeping yourself safe also means you should take a break if and when you start to feel tired. Doing what you need to keep yourself in your best mental and physical condition is as important as honing and developing your driving skills and experience.

3. Expect the unexpected

Be aware of motorists around you and know your space cushion in relationship to those motorists. Anticipate what other drivers around you are going to do as they’re going to do something that could impact your driving.

Being prepared and making the correct defensive driving adjustments are key to your ability to remain safe while working.

4. Anticipate changing conditions

Truck drivers who are prepared for changing weather and road conditions will usually be better drivers. A little bit of extra care and planning when trucking through construction zones will ensure that you and the road workers make it home safely. The same goes for planning for specific times of day, especially rush hours. Anticipating construction zones, potential snow, and morning or afternoon rush hour traffic helps you be prepared for it, or better yet, helps you avoid it altogether.

5. Know your space cushion

Knowing your stopping distance is extremely important for a truck driver. A normal car can stop much quicker than a truck and it can stop within a lot less traveled distance.

According to the FMCSA, “A fully loaded truck traveling in good road conditions at highway speeds needs a distance of nearly two football fields to stop.”

That means a truck driver always needs to be aware of keeping enough space around their truck to stop quickly if demanded.


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4 replies
  1. Greta James
    Greta James says:

    Thank you so much for your tips to do whatever is necessary to keep your mental and physical states as good as possible on those long drives. For the last few weeks, my brother has been talking about becoming a truck driver. My brother has a bad back and I am worried about the bumps hurting his back. I will have to look into suspension seating options that could help him.

  2. Adam Golightly
    Adam Golightly says:

    My dad has been thinking about getting his CDL so that he can get a new job and drive more trucks. He would really like to rent a truck from a professional so that he can learn how to drive correctly and have an easier time. I’ll be sure to tell him about how he should make sure to minimize distractions and put other things out of mind while keeping other drivers around him in mind and anticipate their actions.

  3. rachel frampton
    rachel frampton says:

    My dad would like to become a truck driver someday, which is why he’s currently looking for an experienced trainer that may teach him how. Well, I agree with you that he must always keep his phone out of his reach while driving because this may just distract him. I’ll also keep in mind to remind him that he must keep both his mental and physical health in good condition.

  4. Taylor Hicken
    Taylor Hicken says:

    I appreciated it when you mentioned that it is important for truck drivers to anticipate any changes in the route so they can make it safely to the desired location. It is also great to plan the route beforehand so they can expect if there are any adjustments that they have to make. I would like to think if a truck driver needs to deliver a huge item to a specific location, he should consider getting an oversized permit so there will be no delays during the delivery process.

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