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cvsa safe driver week

Safe Driver Week is almost here! Coronavirus can’t keep trucks off the road, and it isn’t stopping the CVSA Safe Driver Week either. Mark your calendar for July 12-18, 2020. During the second full week of July, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is hosting a week to turn a spotlight to safe driving practices. Each year, the CVSA picks an area of focus. This year, it’s speeding. Clearly, CMV safety is important every week of the year, but CVSA is using this week to nationally highlight safety in trucking.

Why is there a CVSA Safe Driver Week?

If you’re a truck driver hauling essential goods, you may be on the roads almost non-stop. You also might have noticed that most people aren’t driving as frequently. During COVID-19, roads have seen a lot less traffic than usual. It might seem like the roads should be safer during stay-at-home orders, but studies have shown that isn’t the case. There are fewer vehicles on the road, but unfortunately, some drivers are getting too relaxed with safety regulations on the open highways. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), many regions are seeing a big spike in speeding. 

Here are just a few of the numbers from the GHSA:

  • Colorado, Indiana, Utah, and Nebraska have all recorded highway speeds over 100 mph
  • In Minnesota, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities are up more than 2X from a similar period last year. Half of those deaths were related to speeding or negligence
  • New York City has nearly doubled its number of speeding tickets issued in March compared to February of this year

It’s tempting to meet the open roads with an open throttle. Especially when the pressure to meet deadlines is high, a few extra miles per hour might not seem like a problem. But we also know that you care about your safety and your loved ones. The most important thing is to get home safely to them.

During safe driver week as well as the rest of the year, stay safe by practicing defensive driving. That includes regulating your speed and being proactive in poor weather conditions. Similarly, staying alert and well-rested, especially in work zones and other high activity areas helps keep you on the road. 

What Safe Driver Week Means for You

Throughout the week of July 12-18, law enforcement officials will be particularly watchful for drivers engaging in unsafe behavior.

The focus is on speeding, but there will be an increased awareness of other unsafe habits as well.

If officials identify a driver as engaging in unsafe behavior, they may issue a citation. Safe driver week is a national effort, so truckers should be aware whether you’re local, regional, or OTR. Pay close attention to changing speed limits as you drive between states or in and out of cities. 

How to Avoid Citations

The CVSA Safe driver week is focused on speeding this year, but enforcement officers will also have a sharp eye for other violations. Avoid following other vehicles too closely, improper lane changes, and follow traffic signs carefully.

Some of the most obvious reasons to pull someone over are visual ones.

Keep your smartphone away and your eyes on the road. It’s easy to notice when someone is texting or talking on a handheld phone while driving. Both are illegal in many states. Another easily spotted violation? Seatbelt use. Belt up while you’re on the road and you’ll be safer and less likely to get pulled over. 

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Night Driving

Most drivers will put in their fair share of night truck driving at some point in their careers. Depending on what you drive, night shifts might be your normal routine, or you might drive them only once in a while.

There are several perks to night driving, but it also can be more dangerous. Three times more crashes happen at night than during the day. If you’re headed out for a late shift, here are 7 things you need to know about night truck driving.

1. Your body’s natural rhythms are at a lull in the middle of the night.

Typically, your energy and alertness will drop in the early morning hours. This is particularly true for drivers who don’t typically drive at night.

Consistency along with a good diet and exercise helps your body adjust to a night driving schedule and helps you get the good sleep you need during the day.

If you need a good audiobook to keep you alert on the road, check out our top 10 list.

2. Your visibility is weakened at night.

Unfortunately, humans just don’t have amazing night vision. At night, your peripheral vision will not be as good, and you can’t see as far ahead of you on the road. That makes it hard to see animals who jump out at the last minute. It also means your response time to other drivers and events on the road is likely to be a little slower. Leave yourself extra space whenever possible.

3. Traffic is usually lighter.

Much of the world works a 9-5 job, so if you’re night driving, you will rarely have a problem with traffic. Even congested urban areas are often not a problem when you’re night driving. That said, the other drivers who are out are also at a low point of alertness. Keep your distance and drive defensively. You never know what other kinds of drivers are on the road.

4. Deliveries can be more dangerous.

At night, there are fewer people around, and you’re more likely to run into bad characters. Some drivers say this is especially true in urban areas when you’re making a delivery. Use your street smarts and if you’re traveling to a new area, try to learn what you can about the drop before you go. 

5. You’re on your own when night truck driving.

Most dispatchers and customers aren’t operating 24/7. Typically, that means less after-hours assistance if you run into trouble or need last minute directions to your client.

If you’re an independent driver who loves being self-reliant, you’ll love the self-sufficiency.

It’s on you to solve your own problems and get the job done. Keep a few essential tools in your cab, and you’ll be good to go.

6. Parking options are better.

Night drivers aren’t competing for parking in the same way that other drivers have to in the day. Most of the time, you won’t need to dock early or plan your route around the places you know you can stop. That can be a huge time saver (not to mention the headache you avoid!). If you do need to look for parking or gas, try TruckerPath or GasBuddy to get you where you need to go.

7. Keep your windshield, headlights, and mirrors clean.

Glare can be a big problem for night truck driving. Luckily, a little glass cleaner and elbow grease usually does the trick.

Reducing glare from your mirrors and windshield will go a long way toward keeping your night vision.

Similarly, try not to look closely at oncoming traffic. The bright white lights will temporarily impair your vision. Look slightly down and to the right (or at the white road line) to avoid the negative effects.

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10 Essential Safety Tips for Truck Drivers

On the road truck driving is one of the most important jobs for the economy. It ensures timely delivery of important goods all across the country. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous jobs. In 2017, 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 9-percent increase from 2016, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Truck driving comes with the heavy responsibility of safety for yourself, your cargo, and others on the road. Every great truck driver is going to try to prioritize safety. Here are ten essential safety tips for truck drivers.

1. Defensive driving

Driving defensively means being constantly aware and vigilant for changing or unexpected road conditions. You have to take particular care for motorists who don’t understand trucks and how they operate. Make sure you leave enough space ahead of you—about twice the distance of that the average motorist keeps. Braking distance is the time it takes for the truck to reach a stop once the brake has been applied. The average braking distance for a commercial truck is about 4 seconds. If you’re traveling 55 mph, that’s another 390 feet until you come to a complete stop.

2. Regulate your speed

Of course, you want to follow the speed limit. When it comes to trucking, there are even times when the posted speed limit is too fast.

Take corners, curves, and ramps very slowly!

This is an example of when the posted speed is for cars and not big rigs. Trucks can easily tip over if approaching these too fast. You also will want to take weather and traffic conditions into account for your speed. Know when to slow down, and when you can afford to speed up. You probably shouldn’t be driving at top speed anywhere except the middle of a deserted Interstate on a clear day.

3. Vehicle maintenance

Make sure you complete your pre-trip inspection. The tires and brakes are especially vital given how much weight is riding on them. Any abnormalities should be reported to dispatch right away. If you skip steps in your inspection, or gloss over them, you are compromising your safety and the safety of others on the road!

4. Weather conditions

Subscribe to weather alerts, so that you’re aware of the weather conditions before departing on a trip. Winter weather is especially dangerous as it causes roughly 25% of all speeding-related truck driving accidents. You should be cutting your speed in half for snowy or icy roads. Allow more time for everything in winter weather—signal longer before turning, double your following space, and change speed more carefully. If you see other truckers pulling over, consider doing the same.

5. Work zones

Work zones will present many hazards for truck drivers, like lane shifts, sudden stops, uneven road surfaces, moving workers or equipment, and erratic behavior from other motorists.

About one third of all fatal work zone accidents involve large trucks.

Keep an eye out for road workers and adjust accordingly. Along with obeying all work zone signs, you can also slow down, maintain extra following space, and be prepared to stop quickly.

6. Minimal lane changes

The most adept truck drivers pick a lane and stay in it. The chances of getting into an accident increase every time the truck moves to another lane. If you absolutely have to change lanes, move over very carefully and slowly. Check your mirrors, be aware of blind spots, and signal well ahead of time. Remember that most motorists don’t know how to react to a lane-switching truck, so you’ll have to take that into account. Avoid lane changes during heavy traffic, poor weather conditions, or during night driving.

7. Check delivery spots

Here’s a safety tip veteran truck drivers will recommend to you.

Scope out your delivery spots on foot if possible.

A truck can easily get trapped or unable to turn around into a tight or unmanageable delivery location, even if the shipper assures you that they have trucks there all the time. When delivering to a new customer, find a place to park safely, leave the rig secured, and check out the delivery spot on foot. Shippers may not be aware of all the hazards or obstacles that make it difficult to turn your rig around. A large fraction of accidents take place while backing up, so try to avoid that if possible.

8. Trip and route planning

If you plan your route ahead of time, you’ll be aware of road and weather conditions, detours, work zones, and other obstacles. Non-commercial GPS navigation systems and apps may not be the most complete or accurate guides for truckers. They also don’t provide warning of height and weight limitations. Invest in a GPS especially designed for truckers which shows vital info like which exits to take, distance before exit, when to change lanes, etc. Don’t rely on any one resource entirely, and cross-reference your information. The Rand McNally Road Atlas is another invaluable tool for truck drivers.

9. Remain alert

This is probably the single most important of the safety tips for truck drivers. Good driving requires you to remain alert at all times and that means no distracted driving. At any given second you may face changing traffic, road conditions, poor weather, or unpredictable motorists.

If you’re distracted, you won’t be able to react in the fraction of a second that is needed.

Texting is the worst driving distraction as the odds of being involved in an accident are 23 times greater for truck drivers who are texting. Add to that list anything that will take the focus off the road such as eating, map reading, or interacting with a navigational device excessively. Make sure you are well rested and getting enough sleep to feel refreshed and alert behind the wheel. If you’re drowsy, pull over. These cautionaries are drilled into truck drivers for good reason but are still worth repeating. If you need to attend to something other than driving, then get off the next exit. Remember that none of those distractions are worth risking your life over.

10. Use seat belts

This one is a no-brainer but super important. Remember to buckle up every time you drive the rig. Don’t take the risk. Seat belts have been shown to save lives and reduce injuries. It also protects you from being ejected from your vehicle in case of a crash.

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