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8 Ways for Carriers to Stay Safe on the Road

When you’re driving the largest vehicle on the roadway, it’s easy to grow complacent about safety — especially when you drive for hours and hours at a time.

The challenge is that while freight carriers have a difficult task regarding safety, they also have a huge responsibility, and they must do whatever they can to account for the ignorance and mistakes of regular motorists. Lives and expensive cargo are at stake.

Here are eight ways that carriers can stay safe on the road:

Fight fatigue

The idea of fighting fatigue may sound easy enough, but it’s actually an ongoing battle that calls for constant vigilance. When sleep is what the body needs, there’s no viable replacement. Sticking to a regular, consistent schedule of meals and rest is how fatigue can be overcome.

Pulling over at a designated rest area may hinder a carrier’s schedule, but when the lives of the driver and surrounding motorists are at stake, caution is vital.

Protect Yourself From Other Drivers

Here’s one fact every freight carrier knows: You can’t control the often reckless driving of the motorists around you. Many people simply don’t understand the best practices when driving next to or around a commercial truck.

“Defensive driving” is the best available response. Carriers should scan at least 15 seconds or 1/4 of a mile in front of their trucks, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.

Match Speed to Conditions

Obviously knowing the speed limit at any given time is very important. That said, as conditions change, it is essential to understand when and where to go much slower than the speed limit.

It takes discipline — especially when working under a tight deadline — to consistently slow down during situations such as inclement weather, work zones, extremely curvy roads, exit and entrance ramps, and a loaded trailer. Refusal to slow down, however, can derail even the most skillful driver in the blink of an eye.

Minimize Distractions

There are more potential distractions inside truck cabs than ever before. Recent technologies such as cell phones and on-board tablets have joined food and radios as some of the most common distractions for freight carriers.

For truck drivers, losing concentration for even a moment can have disastrous effects. Making a commitment to reduce in-vehicle distractions will go a long way toward preventing accidents, fines, lawsuits and even deaths.

Bypass Traffic When Possible

Most carriers stay away from traffic whenever they can — especially when there’s a schedule to be kept. This practice is made easier than ever because of GPS and other on-board, online tools.

Beyond saving time, this practice is important because the fewer cars surrounding a truck, the fewer opportunities for those cars to impede the carrier and cause an accident.

Plan the Route in Advance

GPS and other tools are wonderful additions to a freight carrier’s life, but they become dangerous when overused. GPS can serve as another one of those pesky distractions; remember, it only takes a fraction of a second for something tragic to occur.

GPS is best used to augment route plans that were made ahead of time. Carriers can drive with maximum confidence when they know where they’re going and what the weather forecast is for that area.

Stick to the Process

When it comes to routine daily vehicle checks, freight carriers can’t afford to skip steps or cut corners. It can be tempting, especially when a driver is behind schedule or has been on the road for many days. Even so, it’s vital to do a full, attentive examination of one’s rig each morning. It’s the best way to avoid preventable problems on the road.

Always Wear Your Seat Belt

Did you know that more than half of teens and adults (20 to 44 years old) who died in vehicle crashes in 2014 were unrestrained at the time of the crash? There’s an overwhelming pile of data proving the advantages of wearing a seat belt, yet forgetfulness, hastiness and sometimes even vanity continue to prevent many people from consistently using this vital safety tool.

Defensive driving is not a 100 percent effective safety tactic. In case of emergencies that are out of their control, seat belts give freight carriers a highly reliable last line of defense against tragedy.

With these safety tips in mind, you’re sure to be much safer and more confident on the road.