The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) dedicates time and resources to educating truck drivers about how to safely operate their commercial vehicles. Obviously, avoiding truck accidents is in everyone’s best interests. Did you know 30 % of all fatal accidents in work zones involve at least one large truck?
Consistent with their mission, the FMCSA has offered nine safety tips to truckers in an attempt to avoid truck accidents. While the intent of the original article was educating truckers about avoiding truck accidents, the tips have application to all drivers on the road. Consequently, we offer these trucker safety tips for your safety.
1. Safe Driving Requires Defensive Driving
Whether you are a truck driver, or a car driver, constant vigilance is required to detect unanticipated conditions, including distracted drivers, as well as changes in road conditions. By scanning about 15 seconds ahead of where you are, you have more time to discover work zones, other traffic issues, and general dangers, such as a car on the side of the road, or the presence of small children on a playground. Try to look about a quarter of a mile ahead. In residential areas, this translates to about one or two city blocks. Check your mirrors regularly, so you know what is going on behind you.
2. Signal for Safety
Your turn signal provides others with notice of your intentions. Whether you are planning to pass a vehicle on the left, take an upcoming exit ramp, or pull over, using your turn signal well in advance costs you nothing, and may just make the difference with a driver who’s attention is elsewhere. If you pull off the road, run out of gas, or otherwise experience difficulty, use your flashers to alert other drivers of your slow moving vehicle. If you need to pull off the road, do so completely. Use reflective triangles and road flares to alert others of your presence.
Driving at the posted speed limit isn’t always the best or safest approach. Take into consideration weather conditions, including snow, wet pavement, or the possibility of ice. Slow down for curves, ramps, and traffic conditions. While the speed limit provides a maximum pace, the law requires slower speeds when the conditions warrant it.
4. Observe Proper Maintenance
Maintain your vehicle. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding oil changes, tire rotations, brake repair, etc. Make sure there are no obstructions in your line of sight. Ensure your mirrors are properly positioned and clear of dirt.
Every day, on every trip, use your seat belt. The data is indisputable. Seat belts save lives, reduce the level of injury, and keep drivers and passengers inside their cars when there is a crash. For truck drivers, 30 % of all truck drivers involved in accident fatalities were ejected either in total or in part, from their vehicles. Seat belt use reduces the possibility of ejection.
6. Drive at Your Best
Make sure you get enough rest before driving. Drowsy driving kills. Additionally, when you are sick, on medications, or feel dizzy, don’t drive. Make sure you feel good enough to drive. You are taking your life – and the lives of others, into your hands every time you get behind the wheel.
7. Plan Ahead
If you are traveling some place new, take the time to get directions ahead of time. Learn whether your trip involves steep hills, sudden curves, blind approaches, etc. Additionally, whether you are driving some place new, or some place familiar, make sure you are up to date on weather conditions and road conditions.
8. Respect Work Zones
Everyone has seen the warnings – fines double in work zones. But driver safety is increasingly at risk in work zones. Work zones present additional challenges, including sudden stops, uneven road surfaces, lane shifts, moving workers, slow moving equipment, as well as confused drivers. Make sure you operate your car at a speed which will allow you to stop suddenly if need be. Give the driver in front of you extra room. Scan the roadway ahead of you. Above all, be prepared to stop. Keep an eye out for road workers and crew.
9. Beware of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving comes in many forms. Eating, arguing, and talking on the phone all can lead to distracted driving. Texting is perhaps the most dangerous activity of all while driving. When texting, you increase a truck driver’s odds of a crash, a near crash, or an unintentional lane deviation by 23.2 times. There is no reason to believe drivers of cars are in any less danger, or are any less distracted. If you must text, pull off the road, or have a passenger text for you.
Your safety, and the safety of those around you, is paramount. Adopting the same driving precautions truckers use to avoid truck accidents makes you, and everyone on the road, safer.
If you have been injured in a truck accident or a car accident, don’t suffer alone. At The O’Brien Firm, our lawyers understand the damage truck accidents and car accidents can cause. We will meet with you at your home or in our office to discuss your case. Let us help you recover money for your medical bills, your lost wages, and your pain and suffering. Contact us to talk about your case for free.