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Maneuvering a large commercial truck through rush hour traffic when your paycheck depends on how quickly you arrive at your destination brings a full set of stressors and anxiety.
Truck drivers only get paid for the time they are actually behind the wheel, and since the trucking company’s bottom financial line depends on how quickly loads are delivered, they may have far less interest in their truck driver’s ability to drive safely than they should. This combination can lead to truck driver exhaustion, distracted driving and sheer boredom.
With more than half a million trucking accidents every year, resulting in as many as 5,000 deaths and more than 150,000 serious injuries, it is crucial that the trucking industry works harder to minimize the safety risks to those who share the roads with large trucks.
Overall, one out of every eight traffic fatalities involves a large commercial truck, therefore the implementation of additional safety measures for truck drivers could significantly reduce that number.
Truck drivers can help avoid these deadly trucking accidents by doing the following:
1. Stop distracted driving
Distracted driving is quickly moving into the number one slot for causes of auto collisions. As a nation, we increasingly multi-task throughout the day, even when driving.
Truck drivers are no exception. They change radio stations, look at their map or GPS device, talk on the cell phone, eat an entire meal or enjoy a snack, talk to their passenger, watch what is happening on the side of the road, or even daydream as they drive 70 mph in an 80,000 pound loaded truck.
Just like all drivers, truck drivers should strive to keep distractions to a minimum when they are behind the wheel. Inexperienced truck drivers should aim for no distractions at all as they drive to their destination.
2. Understand just how dangerous fatigue is to yourself and to other drivers
Truck drivers are currently allowed to drive eleven hours at a stretch before they are required to stop the truck and rest. If you have ever driven for eleven hours at a time, you know just how exhausted you are by the eighth hour and beyond.
Imagine driving eleven hours every single day. Truck drivers—or any drivers—who suffer from chronic fatigue are less likely to be able to assess a potentially dangerous situation quickly and have significantly slower reaction times. Truck drivers, like all adults, need to get at least seven hours of sleep every night to avoid driving while overly fatigued.
Along with fatigue, truck drivers who are suffering from the flu or any other illness which could hinder their ability to drive, should stay off the road.
3. Recognize your own limitations
New truck drivers in particular must guard against becoming too overconfident. A large, commercial truck can have as many as 18 gears, and a loaded truck typically weighs as much as 80,000 pounds. In some cases, the truck is loaded with hazardous materials.
A truck driver, although trained, may still be inexperienced, leading to him or her being caught in a situation which they are not able to properly react to.