Truck Driver Safety Checklist: 13 Steps for a Safe Trip
Every business cares about their employees’ safety, and there’s a lot of focus on safety when it comes to the trucking business. Truck driving isn't simple, not least because you're driving a large vehicle and have to make long trips. It’s always good to have a set of rules to follow to avoid any possible disruptions. Taking simple steps can keep you, as a driver, safe during transportation. So, in this post, I’ll list give you a truck driver safety checklist.
Let's start with the rule that goes without saying.
Wear a Seatbelt
According to a survey, 1 in 6 truck drivers don't wear a seatbelt. Well, wearing a seatbelt is one of the simplest and easiest safety measures you can take. Among truck drivers that have to drive slowly due to what they are carrying, some might think that not wearing a seatbelt won’t make a difference in their safety because they are traveling at a low speed. But it's not just your truck speed that decides the force of impact. If there's an out-of-control vehicle in your lane, it would risk your safety.
Seatbelts make a lot of difference, no matter the speed of the vehicle or the type of incident. Seatbelts reduce the risk of injuries, even when there are minor incidents. And obviously, when there’s a major incident, seatbelts save lives. So, the first thing you should do after getting in your truck is to put on your seatbelt.
Avoid Using Digital Devices
A lot of truck drivers use sat nav and mobile phones for navigation. This is okay. But you should completely avoid using digital devices to watch a movie, text or call someone, or browse social media while driving. Basically, you should avoid using digital devices that would distract you from driving.
In some cases, maybe there's something important or an emergency that requires you to be on your phone. But in that case, you can simply pull your truck to the side of the road and handle it.
Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is basically preparing yourself to be safe. You will have to be aware of information regarding the road conditions, traffic conditions, and any road work on the route you will be taking. If you're going to a place with different climatic conditions, make sure your truck is prepared for it.
Also, you need to be aware of the driving habits of those around you. Check mirrors regularly, especially while changing lanes.
Be Safe When Loading and Unloading
Trucks are usually used to transport heavy and large-sized items. And loading and unloading these items can get very complicated. It's important to take care of safety while loading and unloading. There have been cases where the whole truck has fallen sideways while loading and unloading. You can find more details on similar cases here.
Also, don't overload the truck. Know how much weight your truck can carry so that you can be sure to not push the limits. And take into consideration the kind of road and weather conditions you will go through while loading or unloading.
Adhere to Speed Limits
Speed limits are set for a reason. One of those reasons is safety: to reduce accidents. Trucks are heavy and big in size. It's not easy to control trucks in high speeds. So, always follow speed limits. And even if there's no posted speed limit, maintain your speed based on the type of road and traffic and weather conditions.
Sometimes taking a long trip might get stressful, and you might feel like grabbing a beer or two. But your safety is more important than becoming inebriated. So don't consume alcohol or any other drugs when you know you have to drive.
If you're thinking "Well, what if it's my birthday?" or there's something else you want to celebrate, it's better to make sure you're not behind the steering wheel at any cost. Whenever a driver is under influence, it isn't just their lives at risk. There's an equal danger to other people on the road.
Be Well-Rested While Driving
It's very important for the driver to have slept enough to be ready for the ride. Sure, it gets boring sometimes behind the wheel, and a truck driver is only human. But it's essential for the drivers to stay fit physically and mentally, as having enough sleep ensures the driver's attentiveness in risky situations. If you're tired or having trouble focusing on the road, pull over and take a break.
Check Your Vehicle
When you're on a long ride, you can't be aware of all the conditions that you will face during your course. Your very own companion in that situation is the truck itself. Make sure it's in perfect condition and with the proper set of tools and equipment that will come in handy in situations such as a flat tire on a deserted highway or a headlight malfunction in the middle of the night.
While your truck is off, make sure you check the levels of the engine oil, coolant, and other necessary fluids, such as wiper fluids. It's always better to check for any irregularities in your truck such as any leaks, cracks, etc. Get them fixed before you go on that trip to guarantee a smooth ride to your destination.
Make sure the brakes are in perfect condition, and, when you turn the truck on, check for any irregularities with the clutch, gauges, etc. Also, check if all the lights in the dashboard are working properly, and always carry spare parts for emergencies.
Carry All Documents
Make sure you're carrying all the documents that are required for your vehicle, including the license, registration, insurance, and the papers required for carrying the kind of load/cargo. It's always advisable that you keep these documents handy in case a police officer stops you to check.
Double Check the Route
When you go to an unknown destination, it's better to be aware of all the routes. For truck drivers, it becomes even more difficult since they sometimes travel thousands of miles. Even with sophisticated GPS equipment, one small turn or a shortcut sometimes leads to an extra hour or few more miles on the map. In hindsight, this doesn't look that troublesome, but it's advisable to stay on the decided route and not take any detours.
A wrong turn can cost you the whole shipment in losses. Some loads are only good for a limited time. Imagine wasting a couple of hours on a detour and then wasting the whole shipment for the customer. It does take a toll on your professionalism. So it's better to double-check the route and never be late again.
In recent times, it's quite a trend to install cameras almost everywhere. So, why not a dashcam? A dashcam basically captures everything your vehicle sees in front of you. This footage may come in handy in case of accidents and road rage incidents. And if nothing else, these dashcams capture the most beautiful time-lapse videos at the most picturesque locations.
No Unplanned Stops
When you check the route for your next ride, make sure you plan the stopping points in your journey as well. The main advantage is that it will keep you on schedule. It's always advisable to never make unusual stops on the highway, as there can be a lot of people with bad intentions on the road who can hurt you.
Last but not the least, this is the most important task of all that you must do while you are going on a ride. We might not always realize this, but these long rides take a toll on your body. The fatigue can be harmful at times when you look at the bigger picture. So make sure you stay hydrated at all times and keep drinking water at regular intervals.
All in all, a truck driver's safety lies in their preparation before the trip, their attentiveness behind the wheels, and good music on the way to soothe the cabin. Truck drivers are an essential part of our society. For everything that we have at our homes, our office, or anywhere else, there's a very high possibility that a truck got it there.
As a truck driver, it's a big responsibility on your part to drive safely and reach your destinations on time. The most important thing is to consider the possibility of mishaps on the way so that you can prepare yourself for the worst. People often become overconfident in their style of driving and start being irresponsible on the road. It's never a good idea to put yourself at risk, and when it comes to trucks, you're not just putting yourself at risk. The people on the road around you will be at risk as well if you are irresponsible. Better safe than sorry.
This post was written by Omkar Hiremath. Omkar uses his BA in computer science to share theoretical and demo-based learning on various areas of technology, like ethical hacking, Python, blockchain, and Hadoop.