The freedom of the open road is perhaps one of the most appealing parts of being a truck driver. Being able to travel across the lower 48 states, and perhaps Canada, while getting paid to do so is an awesome way to earn a living. Because of this, being a truck driver is a career that attracts all types of men and women.
The upside of being a professional truck driver is that almost anyone can learn how to handle a big rig through even the most crowded city streets. This makes the career an opportunity that brings a wide variety of participants who all want to succeed as professional drivers. The road discriminates against no one, and for the most part, drivers offer the same courtesy. However, mixed in with the good drivers who apply for their CDLs, there is another group of people who make the road a very dangerous place.
Professional drivers have a bad reputation in the eyes of the general public. If a tractor trailer and a small vehicle collide on an Interstate, the news report will almost always cast the driver of the tractor trailer as the cause of the accident. The reason for this is that the people in the small cars around us on the highways see us as a threat. Few of them realize that most professional drivers log more safe miles in five years on the road than many of them will drive in a lifetime behind the wheel of their Volvo.
Why is the truck driver viewed as an enemy by the general public? The answer to that question is simple – A few bad drivers give the rest of us a bad reputation. Just as it is not fair to judge people who call themselves Christians by the actions of a fanatic who plants a bomb in a mosque or abortion clinic, it is not fair to judge all trucker drivers by the actions of one or two idiots behind the wheel. However, this is exactly the type of knee-jerk reaction we see when a tractor trailer is entangled in a wreck on the Interstate.
There’s a way to avoid being the driver who receives tickets needlessly and to prevent avoidable accidents. Most of the wrecks and pileups on the highways today are the cause of poor driving habits on someone’s part. If every driver paid due attention to the road and the traffic around them, more than 90 percent of accidents could be avoided. By making sure that you focus on driving when you’re behind the wheel, you can help prevent yourself from being the truck driver who jackknifed his rig in the median trying to avoid a minivan with a family in it.
In order to prevent an accident from occurring, you need to know what would cause it in the first place. If you can spot the causes of an accident before it happens, you can avoid being involved in it at all. For instance, talking and texting on a cell phone is dangerous when you’re behind the wheel. Talking on the phone can cause you to concentrate on the conversation and lose your focus on the road. Texting will inevitably force you to look away from your windshield, and even a two second loss of focus could kill you or others around you.
By staying off your phone, you become a safer driver than 70 percent of the drivers on the roads today. However, this is not enough to keep you safe on the road. You have to watch what every other driver around you is doing in order to protect your rig and your life. If you see a driver on the phone, then either pass them, or let them pass you. Allowing a driver who is not paying attention to the road to move away from you offers you protection from that driver’s impaired response time. Watch the faces of those operating vehicles in the travel lanes around you and be sure that any drivers who seem disconnected, lost in thought, or preoccupied with anything other than driving, are allowed to move away from you.
Every professional truck driver on the road today has a responsibility to the motoring public. In fact, your first responsibility is to ensure that you drive safely between your destinations to protect the lives of those around you. Being able to spot other drivers who are not driving safely is part of being responsible and helping protect your fellow drivers. As you pick up and deliver each load this week, keep in mind that you are the first line of defense in safeguarding against accidents on the road. Keep your eyes and mind on the road, watch for other drivers, and above all, drive safely.