Whether your truck is for work or play, learning some essential truck driver safety tips can help you get to your next destination safely. Trucks are powerful vehicles that make trucks useful and that perform a number of functions, from hauling loads and moving furniture, to transporting you through rugged terrain. Yet the same qualities enjoyable vehicles to drive, like their size and construction, can be potential hazards. Truck driving safety includes understanding key differences between trucks and cars and knowing the best way to handle situations while you’re on the road.
In addition to carrying passengers, most trucks are built to transport and tow significant amounts of weight. This difference in design means most trucks are heavier than cars. Compact pickup trucks, which are smaller than their full-size counterparts, typically weigh 1,000 pounds more than a car. As a result, a truck can cause extensive damage to a car during a collision. Studies on car/truck collisions by the U.S. Department of Transportation report 78% of fatalities are car occupants. This same study found the majority of these collisions were caused by unsafe driving practices like speeding, talking on the phone while driving, following other vehicles too closely and failing to stop at traffic signals. While driving your truck, it’s important to do so with your full attention. Trucks also need more time and room to stop, so it’s also critical to avoid excessive speeding and aggressive practices like tailgating, particularly in heavy traffic. Bad driving habits like these can have serious consequences for you and other drivers.
Despite the potential damage they can create, trucks are also more susceptible to certain kinds of accidents. Pickups have a higher risk for rollover accidents than cars or vans, due to their narrower design and high center of gravity. Rollovers have the highest fatality rate of all auto accidents. Speeding, alcohol use and failure to wear seatbelts are some of the main contributors to rollover fatalities. In addition to changing dangerous driving habits, the following can help you avoid a rollover:
There are many resources with valuable information on how to operate your truck safely. Government-sponsored websites like Safecar.gov, NHTSA.gov, and TFHRC.gov are full of helpful tips, statistics, and vehicle safety reports. In addition, there are a number of DVDs and books focused on safe driving techniques. Magazines like Consumer Reports are also trusted resources for safety information for numerous makes and models of trucks. Or if you’re looking for a more hands-on approach to safe truck driving, consider enrolling in a refresher course at a local driving school.
Practicing safe truck driving involves driving smarter and more consciously. Make an effort to practice good habits, like leaving enough space between you and the next vehicle, while avoiding dangerous practices like speeding or driving while distracted or under the influence. Knowing tips for truck driving safety can not only make you a better driver, it can prevent an accident and possibly save your life.