Holidays Are Dangerous For A Truck Driver
Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, and Christmas and the New Year will be upon us before we know it. As a truck driver, there are some simple steps you can take to help ensure that you make it home to be with your family for the holidays.
Don’t Cook The Book
If your company is still running on paper logs, then the temptation to tear a page out here and there in order to grab a few extra hours behind the wheel can be strong. However, this temptation can lead to much more than a ticket from a D.O.T. officer.
As truck drivers, we often forget just how dangerous our jobs are. We haul loads that often exceed 70,000 pounds, and this time of year that danger can be doubled by less than perfect road conditions. Our first responsibility as a driver is to the motoring public – not to our dispatcher. Adding a little bit of drive time in order to catch that extra load before Christmas may seem like a harmless thing to do, and it may even help our dispatcher out of a jam. However, the consequences could be deadly.
Each hour you spend driving tired increases your chances of being involved in an accident exponentially. By purposely choosing to run those extra miles you’re knowingly endangering the public and yourself. The odds are that if you’re involved in an accident, it will not be a single vehicle accident and you could injure or even kill an innocent person.
So, before you choose to alter your logbook to make a little bit of extra driving time, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk of ending someone’s life prematurely.
Whether you are a gear-jammer who learned to drive in your grandfather’s big rig, or a “professional truck driver” who has graduated driving school, there is one temptation on the road that is almost impossible to ward off. That temptation is to let your pre-trip inspection slide, and simply get on the road and earn some money.
The pre-trip inspection is the single most important action you take at the beginning of each workday. No matter how well you may have inspected the vehicle yesterday, there may be a serious issue with it today. Performing a pre-trip inspection the proper way will enable you to catch almost every single thing that could fail on your truck and endanger your life, or the lives of others around you on the road.
Never allow your pre-trip inspection to become a habit of simply glancing over the truck. Checking each wheel thoroughly can prevent an unnecessary tire blowout or rim failure. Inspecting the brake system can keep you from running into trouble going down a steep grade with a heavy load. Making sure your engine has enough oil and coolant prevents you from breaking down in the middle of nowhere and having issues getting the help you need.
All of these things are common sense, but they are also commonly overlooked. During my time as a truck driver, I saw more drivers skip their pre-trip inspection than just about any other thing on the job. You never forget to look in the mirror in the morning to make sure you are suitable for public exposure – why would you allow your truck to be placed in public without first making sure it is safe?
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
This simple step is one of the most important things a truck driver can do to ensure his safety. Knowing what is going on around you can prevent almost all harm to you or your rig. By paying attention to traffic flow around your truck, you can prevent a careless driver from bumping your trailer needlessly. By being aware of everything around your truck at a shipper or receiver, you can prevent an unnecessary accident caused by inadvertently backing into something.
Take the time to get out of your truck and look around when backing into a tight spot. It’s better for another other truck driver to think you’re a complete idiot when you get out and look around, than for you to prove it to him when you back into his shiny rig. Never be ashamed to step down from the driver’s seat and look around. It also never hurts to ask another truck driver to spot for you when you’re backing up. Having a spotter – especially in blind-side backing situations – can keep you from having a serious insurance claim filed on your company.
Have A Happy & Safe Holiday Season
Once you make it home to your family, be sure to have a safe and happy holiday season with them. As a professional truck driver, you probably spend most of your time away from home. Cherish the time you have with your family and let them know you appreciate their support.