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.