Accidents happen! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's most recent Traffic Safety Facts report, about 538,000 large trucks were involved in police-reported crashes in 2019. Those accidents led to 159,000 injuries and more than 5,000 deaths.
While not every accident can be prevented, you can reduce your risk for crashes and injuries by doing these three smart things on every ride, every time:
1. Buckle Up
The good news: more than 90% of all drivers now wear seat belts, according to NHTSA. The bad news: commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers are less likely to wear one. Choosing not to wear a seat belt is against the law, and have a significant negative impact on your company's DOT and CSA ratings.
It also can be deadly. In fact, in early February, two drivers of bucket trucks were killed in separate crashes—one in South Dakota, the other in Oklahoma. Both drivers were ejected from their vehicles. Neither was wearing a seat belt. Putting on your seatbelt is the first thing you should do when you get in your vehicle.
A few seat belt facts:
Wearing a seat belt is federal law for CMV drivers
Seat belts reduce your risk of serious injury by 45% and reduce your fatality risk by 50%
Drivers not wearing seatbelts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from their vehicle
2. Put Your Phone Down
Texting while driving on average takes your eyes off the road for nearly five seconds. If you're driving 55 mph, that's the same as driving the length of a football field—including the end zones—with your eyes closed. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, your odds of a crash or near-crash are 23.2 times higher when texting.
Never text or use your mobile phone while driving. It's illegal in most states, and will result in costly fines, penalties, and it can even cost you your license. Also, avoid other distractions, including eating or adjusting your truck's GPS system while driving.
3. Keep Your Cool
Warmer weather in spring and summer brings more traffic and hot tempers. That can lead to road rage. Typical road rage behaviors include deliberately tailgating, blocking others from changing lanes, and cutting off other vehicles on purpose.
Avoid road rage by driving defensively and remember that you are a Professional Driver and should conduct yourself accordingly.
Drive no faster than the posted speed limit and be ready to lower your vehicle's speed depending on the current driving conditions.
Keep a safe distance between other vehicles. How much stopping distance you need varies based on driving conditions:
3 seconds, in ideal driving conditions (good road surface, good weather, light traffic)
4 seconds, during rain, on wet pavement or in heavy traffic
7 – 8 seconds, for icy or snow-covered roads
Reduce the number of lane changes
Plan your route in advance
Eat healthy and get plenty of sleep