9 Common Mistakes Truck Drivers Must Avoid

9 Common Mistakes Truck Drivers Must Avoid

Truck drivers typically face several ordeals, from long shift hours to extended periods away from one’s home and loved ones. According to statistical data, truck accidents account for 6.5% of all crashes in the country. Most of these accidents are triggered by rookie mistakes on the road, which culminate in injuries and fatalities. Understanding the common mistakes truck drivers make can help increase overall road safety. This article lists some common rookie mistakes:

Driving in a state of sleep deprivation
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 13% of all truck accidents involving the death of the truck driver were caused due to the driver being sleep deprived. Moreover, in another study, 19% of drivers reported falling asleep at the steering wheel at least once during the month. Such staggering statistical figures suggest that truck drivers grappling with sleep deprivation is a significant issue. It is important to ensure that truck drivers are well-rested and have slept for at least seven hours before they begin their journeys. Moreover, they must not undertake a continuous journey of over 14 hours at a stretch.

Rash driving
The speed limit for heavy vehicles, including large trucks, is 70 mph during the day and 65 mph at night. However, many truck drivers ignore these speed-limit specifications and end up driving rashly, causing accidents. As per 2020 reports by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “speeding of any kind” was the most common factor, leading to fatal crashes of large trucks. Rookie drivers must avoid speeding at any cost, being particularly cautious when driving downhill. Following speed-limit regulations throughout the journey is better, as reducing the speed is challenging once the vehicle gains momentum. Drivers should be advised about the importance of speed regulations before being allowed to drive independently.

Not considering the trailer
Driving a heavy vehicle involves being conscious of the vehicle’s size at all times. Sometimes, truck drivers may make wrong judgments while taking turns, reversing, etc., because they fail to consider the length of the truck’s trailer. This mistake is particularly common among amateur truck drivers, who are not used to driving heavy vehicles. Truck drivers must be trained adequately to maneuver trucks on different terrains. People might honk at you as you cross an intersection, but that won’t make them as angry as if a trailer ran into their broadside.

Not loading the truck properly
Using improper truck-loading techniques can lead to side sweep accidents, rollovers, and jackknives. Certain simple strategies for safely loading and unloading cargo in trucks can prevent fatal road accidents. For example, some effective truck-loading techniques include loading trucks from both sides, loading them from one side with forklift tine extensions, and loading from one side without tine extensions. Truck drivers should be trained to carry out these techniques effectively and be closely supervised on the job.

Using mobile phones while driving
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports suggest that 13% of all accidents caused by distracted driving involve the driver’s use of mobile phones for calling or texting. Using phones for calling, texting, etc., while driving diverts one’s attention considerably, leading to fatalities and serious injuries. For truck drivers, prolonged periods of being away from home can increase their mobile-phone usage.

Slow reaction time
Often, truck drivers lack the vigilance to respond spontaneously to unexpected events on the road. Even a moment’s delay in braking or turning the steering wheel can lead to serious road accidents, even causing death. Slow reaction times could be due to several reasons, such as elevated stress levels, sleep deprivation, poor mental health, and preoccupation with other tasks while driving. Truck drivers should be explained the importance of road safety and alertness while driving. A friendly approach toward understanding their issues and helping them work more productively can also help avoid such accidents.

Misjudgments while changing lanes
Lane changing can be a dicey task, particularly for amateur drivers. Misjudgments while changing lanes, particularly on the part of heavy-vehicle drivers, can lead to freak accidents. Not signaling before changing lanes is a major driving mistake. Alerting the drivers following the vehicle beforehand about the lane change provides them sufficient time to slow down their vehicles. Moreover, drivers are often indecisive about changing lanes, which leads to confusion among other drivers. Such situations of panic often culminate in fatalities. Thus, truck drivers must be advised on essential lane-changing practices.

Ignoring or not comprehending road signs
Following road signs is a crucial aspect of safe driving, as these visual guides help drivers understand any upcoming inconveniences or situations and exercise caution accordingly. Consequently, not following these road signs can lead to a lack of preparedness among truck drivers, allowing them less time to make decisions. Such drivers undertake high risks of road accidents and death. Truck drivers must browse road signs carefully, understanding the motive and significance of each sign and following them on the job.

Neglecting one’s health and well-being
Truck drivers shoulder the massive responsibility of maneuvering through rough terrains, driving in unpleasant weather conditions, and working for excruciatingly long hours. As a result, many truck drivers tend to overlook their health and well-being. Such negligence can affect their personal and professional lives and increase their susceptibility to accidents. Therefore, drivers must follow certain basic health measures, such as staying hydrated, ensuring adequate sleep, eating on time, and taking breaks between journeys.

Another significant responsibility for truckers is to ensure the optimal use and refilling of fuel. The best trucking fuel cards can be incredibly time-saving, as truckers just need to swipe the card while refilling fuel.

Certain safety measures can ensure fewer road accidents and immediate action during emergencies. For example, vehicle locators may be installed for pick-up trucks purchased from reputed dealers, such as the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500. These vehicle locators allow for the automatic remote tracking of a vehicle, ensuring instant assistance to drivers in emergencies.