Staying Safe: Road Safety Tips For Drivers
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Being out on the road, on your own, is a great option for those that love being independent and in control of their own careers on a daily basis. Being on the road is generally just as safe as being in an office or working in many different industries and fields, but there are also some unique safety issues to keep in mind.
Both male and female truckers need to keep personal safety in the forefront of everything that they do. This includes both when they are driving as well as when they are enjoying some well deserved rest time. By following the safety tips provided below and just generally considering any potential risks to personal safety when on the road you will be prepared in advance for any potential problems.
Stay Aware Of Surroundings
This is not a safety tip that is unique to trucking, everyone at all times should be aware of what is going on around them. However, for a trucker that may be stepping out of the truck onto the shoulder of the road or spending time in a truck stop or parking lot on his or her own, awareness of surroundings is even more important.
Whenever possible avoid pulling over to the side of the road and stepping down from the cab of the truck next to traffic. While most drivers will pull over into the next lane or slow down, never anticipate that they will do so. By exiting the truck on the passenger side you have more control if you slip, step back or just step out a bit further than you anticipated.
While staying by yourself on a little used truck stop or a roadside turn out may seem like a good idea, having a group of other trucks and truckers around you is always the best bet. There is safety in numbers plus, if you do have any problems, there are people around to help.
Always Keep Your Sleeper Private
Keeping your living space private with curtains to cut off the view from the cab is a simple way to avoid problems. If someone can see into your windows and noticed that you have a TV, game system, computer or just a collection of your personal property in the sleeper you are much more likely to have problems than if this is not public knowledge.
Remember that what you are talking about at the truck stop or, if you still use one, on the CB, also becomes public knowledge. If you brag about your entertainment system on the road you may be creating a situation where you are literally attracting those that would like to remove those things from your truck.
Traveling alone, either as a male or a female trucker, is more worrisome than traveling as a team. If you are a single driver there is no need to advertise that fact, especially if someone seems to be intent on finding out if you are driving alone or as a team.
Avoid Those Back Roads
Sometimes, if there are traffic issues or if you want to try to avoid having to go through a particular city or stretch of bad road, you may be tempted to get on your GPS and chart an alternative route. However, those alternative routes may be fine for passenger vehicles or light trucks, but they may not be OK for big rigs under load.
Small bridges, low overpasses and power lines and many other issues can potentially make these routes much more dangerous for big trucks. Especially in rural areas sharp corners, poor road maintenance and conditions and lack of service in the event of an accident makes these short cuts both dangerous as well as potentially costly if you have a problem.
Back roads can also cause problems because of lack of fuel service and even the ability to correctly describe your position if you do need help. GPS on phones and even on trucks can help with this, but you still may be waiting a long time for help to arrive.
Have A Check-In
A good idea for both men and women on the road is to have a regular check-in time with a friend, family member or spouse. This is in addition to checking in with your dispatcher or driver manager and letting them know of any route changes or issues that you are experiencing.
Having a check-in with a friend or family member by phone can really help in the event that you happen to have truck problems, an accident or some other type of delay and do not make the check-in call. The friend or family member should then know to contact your dispatcher and report the issue if you cannot be reached. This is a good option in the event of some type of issue where you can’t make a call because of a health emergency or other type of issue.
Precautions You Must Take Before or While on the Road
- Fatigue: do not drive at times when you would normally be asleep.
- Alcohol: plan ahead. Avoid driving if you are going to be drinking alcohol.
- Medications: alcohol can also cause adverse reactions with some medications. If you are unsure, do not drive and consult your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
- Distance behind the vehicle in front: as we get older our reaction times get slower. Leave at least a two second gap between the car ahead and your own. In wet weather, when driving at night or in low visibility, allow a four second gap.
- Use daytime running lights: this makes it easier for your car to be seen by other drivers and will make it easier for you to see on a dull day.
- Head checks: it is important to turn your head to check for vehicles in your blind spot, especially when merging, changing lanes or before moving off at an intersection. Try turning from the waist to make this easier.
- Take your time: it is easy to feel pressured to increase speed if there is a line of traffic behind you, or a car tailgating. Pull off the road to let them pass if you need.
- Heavy traffic: avoid driving in peak hour traffic if possible.
- Long trips: make sure you have a good night’s sleep before you leave and plan regular rest and refreshment breaks during the journey.
- safety on the road pictures: keep up to date. Have the necessary safety signs in your mind