Top 10 Things Every Commercial Truck Driver Should Know
Are you considering a career as a commercial truck driver? It’s a rewarding job that offers independence and financial benefits. Like any job, there’s a learning curve and aspects that require adaptation.
Here are ten tips to remember that will help you become a successful commercial truck driver.
- Inspect your truck before each trip. Taking time to conduct a pre-trip inspection helps you spot issues before they before a problem on the road. Catching mechanical problems early will reduce the likelihood of a breakdown and can help save you money on repairs. Pre-trip inspections are also required by law. Check all the critical areas, including the engine and front of your truck, the sides, and rear of the cab, the coupling device, brakes, and safety equipment.
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. As a commercial truck driver, you’ll likely navigate routes through new places. Being mindful of your surroundings is essential to your safety. What are the road conditions? Are there lots of potholes or construction on your route? It’s important to be mindful of animals darting across the road too. Stay vigilant when you’re driving at night and watch for deer.
- Drive defensively. You shouldn’t feel bad about being a selfish driver. It takes time to get accustomed to driving a rig, and a larger vehicle demands more responsibility from the driver. Take your time on your route, and don’t worry about accommodating other vehicles.
- Check the weather before you head out. Inclement and unexpected weather can be dangerous. Monitor the weather forecast in your area and other locations on your route. That way, you can anticipate driving conditions and possible delays.
- Check your mirrors regularly. It’s recommended that you check your mirrors every 10 seconds to monitor the position of other drivers, especially if you need to change lanes, merge or turn.
- Know your truck’s blind spots. Commercial truck blind spots are directly in front of the cab, behind the trailer, on the lower left side of the cab, and on most of the truck’s right side. Some of those blind spots are large enough to hide a passenger vehicle. That’s why it’s important to give yourself ample time and use your blinker while switching lanes so other drivers have time to move out of the way.
- Keep lane changes to a minimum. Changing lanes safely reduces the likelihood of collisions. It’s best to only change lanes when necessary like to avoid construction and accidents or passing a slower driver. Prepare to switch lanes by looking at least a fourth of a mile ahead of you and double-check your mirrors before making the change.
- Practice good braking techniques. The bigger the rig, the longer the stop time. It takes an 18-wheeler roughly 40% longer to stop than a passenger vehicle. That’s why it’s essential to give yourself plenty of time to brake properly to avoid collisions, fender-benders, and excess wear on your brakes. Even if you’re going 55 miles per hour, it will take several hundred feet to reach a complete stop, so pay attention to the road immediately in front of you and further ahead.
- Use your GPS wisely. Some truck GPS systems can log mileage, time, and breaks to help you keep track of your driving. Using a GPS can help you save time on deliveries and improve customer satisfaction. These devices also help dispatchers track your location.
- Get a good night’s sleep. You can’t function at your best if you’re running on a few hours of sleep. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Getting a full night’s sleep and giving yourself time to take short naps during the day, if necessary, will lower your likelihood of an accident.