11 Tips for a Safer Trucking Operation

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The number of people killed in crashes involving medium- and heavy-duty trucks in 2016 increased by 57 over the previous year, according to data released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

For the last year, our Trucking Safety Tip of the Month series aimed to help educate those within and outside of the trucking industry about safe driving practices. Here are our 11 tips on how to promote a safer trucking operation.

Tip #1: Know the Size Regulations

Size regulations have been around since the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Knowing your state’s size regulations when it comes to operating a commercial motor vehicle will help to keep yourself and everyone else safer on the road.

Tip #2: Understand Consequences of Speeding

Did you know that a semi-truck takes about 535 feet to come to a complete stop, whereas a passenger vehicle takes only 316 feet? Such a disparity can be largely attributed to the difference in the weight of the vehicles. Additionally, stopping distance increases as speed increases. So as you begin traveling at higher speeds, also increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.

Tip #3: Always Wear a Seatbelt

Did you know vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those aged 1 to 54 in the United States? In fact, not wearing a seat belt increases the chance you’ll die in a motor vehicle accident by 2500 percent. While large trucks will often prevail in a motor vehicle accident, this does not excuse truckers from using their seat belts. In fact, both large commercial truck drivers and passengers are required by law to wear seat belts.

Tip #4: Combat Distracted Driving Habits

There are three types of distracted driving a driver can face while operating his or her vehicle—visual, manual, cognitive. Recognizing the differences between these three distractions and forming company policies on preventing them will propel your trucking company toward safer driving habits.

Tip #5: Obey Traffic Control Devices

According to OSHA, a traffic control device is a sign, signal, marking or other device placed on or adjacent to a street or highway (by authority of a public body or official having jurisdiction), to regulate, warn, or guide traffic. Most commonly this means traffic signals, regulatory and warning signs, and all pavement markings.

The failure to obey a traffic control device can result in a Compliance, Safety and Accountability violation. However, it could result in something much worse such as a traffic accident or fatality.

Tip #6: Prevent Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is experienced on the roadway every day. Based on data contained in the NHTSA’s 2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), there were 59 fatal crashes involving a large truck where the truck driver was coded as being “asleep or fatigued.”

Three ways toward preventing driver fatigue is by getting enough sleep, refueling your body, and by avoiding inducing drowsiness. It is also important to learn the signs of driver fatigue.

Tip #7: Establish a Following Distance Policy

Large trucks should follow these guidelines when it comes to following distance:

  1. Traveling <40 mph: Allow at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length between you and the leading vehicle.
  2. Traveling >40 mph: Allow at least two seconds for every 10 feet of vehicle length between you and the leading vehicle.
  3. Stopped: Stop roughly 20 feet behind the leading vehicle at all stops (traffic lights, stop signs, railroads, etc.).

Tip #8: Prepare for Unfamiliar Roadways

Twenty-two percent of large-truck crashes occurred when CMV drivers were on unfamiliar roadways. Have your drivers prepare ahead of time by looking for any low bridges or sharp turns that may be encountered on the route. Unfortunately, we can’t plan for everything that may happen on the road. Therefore, it is also important to always drive with caution, especially on an unfamiliar roadway.

Tip #9: Prevent Inadequate Evasive Action

Fourteen percent of large-truck crashes occurred when CMV drivers failed to execute an evasive action. To avoid a traffic accident, drivers must be taught to increase awareness when operating a truck. Drivers need to also recognize potential hazards on the road and learn when to slow down.

Tip #10: Practice Adequate Surveillance

Roughly 14 percent of large-truck crashes occur due to commercial motor vehicle drivers’ inadequate surveillance. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of blind spots, practice defensive driving, and always keep your eyes on the road.

Tip #11: Hinder Cargo Theft

In 2016, there were 1,614 incidents of cargo theft, heavy commercial vehicle theft, and supply chain fraud in the United States. While the number of thefts fell, the value of stolen goods has risen to $114 million.

Here are five steps toward preventing cargo theft:

  1. Know the Hot Commodities
  2. Beware of Hot Spots
  3. Invest in Technology
  4. Keep the Destination a Secret
  5. Establish Best Practices within Your Trucking Operation

We hope these tips aid your trucking operation in forming policies and procedures that embrace a sound safety culture. Stay tuned for our 2018 blog series, Trucking Insurance 101.

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4 comments on “11 Tips for a Safer Trucking Operation

  1. Thank you for helping me learn more about how to drive a heavy vehicle and stay safe while in the process. Just like you mentioned, you should always obey traffic control such as signs, signals, and warning signs. A friend of mine has been thinking about becoming a driver this summer, and I think that he would really benefit from this information because I am sure that he would not want to violate the Compliance, Safety and Accountability violation. Thanks for the post, and I will let him know about this as soon as I can.

  2. I love that you talked about how even if you drive a big truck, that doesn’t excuse you from wearing a seat belt. My uncle is looking to get new truck seats for his truck to make long trips more comfortable. I’ll be sure to talk to him about making sure he keeps it safe.

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