Safety should be your top priority even though timely delivery is also required. Safe defensive driving is the key for success in a driver’s life. My hats off to the drivers who have driven for 200-400 thousand miles or mile in their career without a single incident. They are responsible professional drivers. Such drivers are recognized by their employers and other trucking organizations around the world.
- Your primary responsibility is to protect the public and yourself – choose to be safe
- Focus on a presentable appearance. Dress well and wear the uniform, if you have one. You are representing your company to your customers.
- Exhibit professional behavior by being courteous and respectful
- Maintain and operate your equipment in a safe manner
- Comply with the state, Federal laws and company policies
- Set a good example to the less experienced drivers
- Report unsafe drivers, unsafe road conditions, crashes, any unsafe situations for the drivers immediately to safety agencies
- Deliver your load on time
- Take pride in your profession
- Practice defensive driving
- Tailgate other vehicles
- Drive aggressively
- ‘Get even’ with other drivers – none of these are worth it
Be physically and emotionally prepared to drive when you have to:
Professional drivers are normally under great deal of stress to deliver products on time, while much of it is whom do you work for. Remember to create a safe working environment for yourself and others. Ultimately it is your responsibility and license. Don’t do anything that will jeopardize your license. How you drive is strictly your choice.
If you are stressed,
- Rest in truck stop whenever needed
- Ignore drivers with attitude while driving
- Eat a well balanced diet on a regular basis
- Make sure you sleep well.
- Exercise consistently
- Watch your unhealthy habits, if any – drinking, smoking and make changes
Don’t let stress lead you to fatigue. Fatigue is a serious thing. Fatigue is defined as ‘weariness from bodily or mental exertion.’
Fatigue is caused by drivers who are under stress, too many hours of driving, lack quality sleep, cab temperature too hot or cold, substance abuse, and irregular mealtimes. Know your body, know your equipment and balance the needs.
I know of drivers who drive all night to make deliveries and sleep for less than three hours a day. Don’t do it. Develop a habit to sleep 5-6 hrs daily.
Fatigue impairs your driving ability and puts you at a higher risk for crashes, accidents and injuries.
Fatigue slows your reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases risky driving behaviors like speeding & tailgating.
You are further at risk if you are sleep deprived; drive long distances without a break alone and through the night. The risk grows further if you take medications or drink alcohol and drive for long hours in rural areas with limited lightning & traffic which are really boring.
Unless you get enough sleep normally, you won’t even know when you are tired. If drowsiness creeps up on you when you are driving, then it is a sure sign of fatigue. You may fall asleep behind the wheel. Imagine you’re on a big rig with so many other drivers around you. You definitely don’t want to fall asleep. We hear so many horror stories. I know Luis, a truck driver who went through this on his way to Las Vegas, fell asleep behind the wheel, hit the median lane and couple of cars. Fortunately there was no casualty. Don’t let this happen to you.
There are sure signs of fatigue. If you experience any of these, stop driving immediately. You are putting yourself in a situation that could be very dangerous to you and other drivers on the road. Watch out and take appropriate action. Sleep & rest are vital to your safety.
- Have trouble keeping your head up & eyes open
- Have drifting and confused thoughts
- Can’t focus on the traffic
- Forgetting the few miles driven – wondering how you got to where you are
- Drifting out of your driving lane, driving over the curb
- Speed varies drastically as you drive