You have a great deal of power behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. It's your responsibility to drive safely. As a bonus, if you do, then you'll also enjoy lower truck insurance costs.
Sobering Trucking Statistics
Truck engines have 300-400 more horses than a passenger vehicle and 900-1,800 more feet/pound of torque, and tractor trailers can weigh 20-30 times more than a passenger vehicle, according to the Truckersreport.com.
Plus, tractor trailers “are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles underriding trucks in crashes,” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHS). And tractor trailers have more blind spots and take 20-40 percent farther to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles, according to IIHS.
With great power comes great responsibility. “About 98 percent of all semi accidents result in at least one fatality,” TruckAccidents.org reports. “Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants,” according to IIHS. In 2015, IIHS reported that 3,852 people died in large truck crashes – 16% were truck occupants, 29% were car occupants, and the rest were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.
Here are 5 Important Safety Tips for Truck Drivers:
- Be Alert – Give the road your full attention and be aware of what is going on around you. Know who is in front of, behind, and next to you at all times. Try to anticipate potential dangers and always leave enough space to allow for safe braking and unexpected actions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recommends, “If you are driving below 40 mph, you should leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. For a typical tractor-trailer, this results in 4 seconds between you and the leading vehicle. For speeds over 40 mph, you should leave one additional second.”
Being well-rested is key to staying alert. The hours-of-service regulations, which puts limits on when and how long you can drive, were put into place to help ensure that you remain awake and alert while driving. Don’t compromise safety; follow these regulations.
- Watch the Weather – Weather is one of the most significant factors that affect driving safety. Knowing what to expect can help you be better prepared. A wet road requires more room to stop, so slow down and keep an even safer driving distance between you and the car in front of you in bad weather. And pay attention to the temperature as rain can quickly turn to treacherous ice when the temperature drops.
If you don’t feel safe in the current driving conditions, stay parked. Know your limits and don’t be a hero. Nothing is worth risking your life for.
- Pick a Lane – The chance of an accident increases every time you change lanes, so pick a lane and stay in it whenever possible. If you do need to change lanes, do so carefully. Be aware of your blind spots and carefully check your mirrors.
- Plan Your Travel – If possible, avoid traveling in high-volume traffic at peak times. Allow time for regular breaks to stretch and recharge. Watch the weather to see if you can expect any dangerous conditions and make sure that your truck is equipped with supplies for all driving conditions. Check your rig and your load before starting.
- Maintain Control – Remember that your vehicle is bigger and more powerful than most of the vehicles around you and that it won’t stop or take a turn the way a smaller vehicle The best way to maintain control is to control your speed.
No matter how “hot” your load is, nothing is worth risking your life for. And an added benefit is that fewer accidents mean lower truck insurance premiums!
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