Hello and welcome to the BW Mitchum Trucking blog! We’re bringing you the latest information on topics that matter to commercial truck drivers. BW Mitchum continues to be a leader in customized intermodal and domestic transportation, while still maintaining the core principles you expect from a 3rd generation family business. We pride ourselves on our reliable and personalized customer service, and provide whatever logistical support customers may need in addition to transportation, including warehousing, trans loading, and brokerage services. We are committed to continuing to provide the highest-quality transport services as we continue to grow.
In today’s blog, we are discussing 6 safe driving tips for truck drivers. Operating a large and heavy vehicle like a truck isn’t as easy as it may seem. In fact, it presents unique safety challenges, and if you are new to driving a truck, it may take some time to get used to. It is important to be safe on the road, not only for yourself and your driving record, but for your fellow drivers on the road. Accidents and injuries can be prevented by following simple safety measures. At BW Mitchum, safety isn’t something we do– It’s a part of who we are. Our drivers, dispatchers, and staff work together to create a culture of safety. That’s why we’re here to share these safe driving tips for truck drivers with you! If you are interested in learning more, you’re in the right place! Let’s get right into it.
Tip #1. Always wear your seatbelt.
This may be one of the most basic safety rules, but it’s also one of the most important. Did you know that federal law requires professional truck drivers to wear seat belts? This law has been in place since 1970. However, a 2013 survey found that 1 in 6 truck drivers do not use their seat belts. Additionally, more than 1 in 3 truck drivers who died in 2012 were not wearing seat belts, and buckling up could have prevented up to 40% of these deaths. With that being said, it is important to wear your seat belt when operating a truck. And yes, you have to wear it even if you are driving at low speeds!
Tip #2. Be sure to check your blind spots.
You should check your mirrors every 8 to 10 seconds looking for vehicles that may be entering your blind spots. The most obvious blind spots for semi trucks are directly in front of the vehicle and directly behind the trailer, but there are also blind spots on each side of the truck. We recommend using the SMOG technique when changing lanes. SMOG is an acronym for Signal-Mirror-Over Shoulder-Go. Using SMOG or a similar technique when changing lanes can help eliminate these blind spots. Besides checking your blind spots, you can manage these spots by creating space around the vehicle. For example, it’s a good idea to maintain a large distance between your truck and the vehicle in front of it. Stay in the lane farthest to the right whenever possible to eliminate the blind spot on the right side of the vehicle. Double-check or triple-check your mirrors before changing lanes.
Tip #3. Keep stopping distances in mind.
The stopping distance is the distance your vehicle travels from the time you press the brake until the vehicle stops. A normal passenger vehicle like a car generally needs approximately 316 feet to come to a complete stop, while a large commercial truck needs about 526 feet to safely stop. One aspect that factors into the time it takes for a vehicle to stop is the weight of the vehicle— A loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Another factor in calculating stopping distance is the speed at which the vehicle is traveling. The faster you are driving, the longer it will take to come to a complete stop. With this in mind, always be aware of speed limits and the speed at which you are traveling. Also keep in mind weather and road conditions, as well as curves or ramps that you need to slow down for.
Tip #4. Stay focused.
Distracted driving is dangerous, accounting for over 3,000 deaths in 2020. You can keep yourself and others safe while on the road by avoiding distracted driving. But did you know that distracted driving doesn’t just consist of the use of cell phones while driving? Not getting enough sleep, feeling sick, or the use of certain medications can also distract drivers. You can prevent this by getting adequate rest and pulling over if you feel drowsy or ill. Remember, it is illegal for commercial motor vehicle drivers to text while driving, so resist sending messages while on the road. If there is an urgent matter, pull over. Additionally, other activities such as reading a map, engaging with a GPS device, changing radio stations, eating, and drinking can be distracting. Always be alert and stay focused!
Tip #5. Plan your trip ahead of time.
Trip planning is one of the most important safe driving tips for truck drivers. (We’ll expand more on this in a future blog!) Stay up to date on weather conditions for all of the areas you will be driving through. Plan appropriate driving time in case of traffic or emergency— There are all different kinds of unexpected events that can occur on the road. To put it simply, trip planning helps you determine where you’re going, when you’re going to arrive, and if there might be any issues along the way. This not only keeps everything in order but can ease the stress you may feel before beginning a trip. The better you plan your trip out, the safer and easier your journey will be.
Tip #6. Maintain your vehicle.
Checking Inside the Truck
Your safety begins with the safety of your vehicle. Always be sure to perform a pre-trip safety inspection. If your truck isn’t up to date with regular maintenance, it may break down on the road. Make sure to keep track of maintenance such as brake pad and oil changes, and walk around the truck to check all areas before you start driving. Thoroughly check the truck, trailer, and load. This will help verify that the truck is in working order. Don’t forget to check the tires to see if they are properly inflated and have a decent tread. Open the hood and check fluid levels. Be sure to go around to the back of the trailer and check that the doors and hinges are working properly. Be sure that the doors are latched and secured.
Checking Outside the Truck
After you’ve properly checked the outside of the vehicle, get in the cab, start the truck and check the gauges, adjust mirrors, and make sure that the lights, signals, parking brake, and horns work. If any issues are found during this pre-trip inspection, they must be addressed before you begin your trip. Before you are ready to get on the road, double-check your paperwork. It is a good idea to perform a thorough pre-trip inspection whether you are traveling to or from a destination. It should only take about 10 to 15 minutes, and skipping it is not worth the risk.
These are just a few of the actions you can take to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you while on the road. It is not something that can be taken lightly— It prevents injury and even death. As mentioned before, BW Mitchum considers safety our top priority. We hope you found these safe driving tips for truck drivers informative, and we hope to see you back on the blog soon for more tips and insight on topics involving truck drivers. If you are currently seeking new opportunities in the commercial trucking industry, we are always interested in adding new talent to our team! Visit our opportunities page to learn more about our requirements and apply to one of our open positions. Thank you for reading!