Safe Driving Practices for Operating A Truck or Oversized Vehicle

Published: May 31, 2023
Last updated: August 18, 2023

Trucks and oversized vehicles have bigger blind spots and longer stopping distances, making rougher turns, which means they face unique safety challenges. Safe driving practices for operating a truck or oversized vehicles don’t just protect the health and well-being of the driver but also of other motorists and pedestrians on the road. Safe driving practices are essential for owner operators handling trucks or oversized vehicles. Maintaining a safe following distance, conducting regular vehicle inspections, and adhering to Hours of Service regulations are crucial. Defensive driving and anticipating others' actions also play a vital role in ensuring road safety.

The Department of Labor has categorized the trucking industry as one of the riskiest sectors in the United States. Logistics and transportation fleets have some of the highest numbers of injuries and deaths on the job – which only increases yearly. By taking the following safety measures, drivers not only ensure their protection but also minimize costs linked with claim payouts, accidents, and increases in insurance premiums. 

Practice Defensive Driving 

Defensive driving is a type of driving that encourages truckers to constantly be on the lookout for possible changes in road or driving conditions. Drivers are taught to minimize the risk of deadly crashes and injuries by predicting possible dangerous situations and making smarter and well-informed decisions while operating a heavy vehicle. 

Truck drivers are less likely to get tangled in accidents by employing defensive driving techniques. Here are some of the main defensive driving strategies to follow:

Practice the 3-second rule: When it comes to front and back collisions, the best trick is to avoid tailgating and follow the 3-second rule to maintain a safe distance between the vehicles. This rule states that drivers should allow three full seconds between the time the vehicle in front takes to reach a specific spot and the time it takes the driver to reach that exact point. Drivers should extend the rule to 5 seconds if heavy winds or rains are present. If the roads are slippery, drivers should extend the rule to 10 seconds. 

Look out for blind spots: Another way to prevent collisions is to check your mirror every 10 seconds to be aware of motor vehicles entering your blind spots. Moreover, scour the road ahead about every 15 seconds for any traffic issues, work zones, and other potential hazards. 

Always use turn signals: Drivers who drive on wide roads or during non-peak hours may be tempted to exit highways and change lanes without using turn signals. However, failing to do so increases the probability of accidents. You should signal even if you’re the only one driving on the road and no vehicle is nearby. 

Be Prepared in Advance 

Before you get ready to hit the road, stay updated on the road conditions, weather, mountainous routes, and detours. Use every tool you have – such as GPS, radio traffic advisory stations, apps with traffic information, mapping and routing software, etc. - to look for hazardous driving conditions. When possible, avoid work zones and plan your trip during off-peak hours when the traffic is more manageable. 

Take Proper Breaks 

The HOS states that all commercial drivers are required to take proper breaks before they can continue driving again. For example, as per the truck driver limits set by HOS, all drivers should take a 30-minute rest after driving for 8 hours and a 10 to 11 hour break before coming back on duty. This ensures they get plenty of rest and are not too tired to drive properly. 

Avoid all Distractions 

Driving an oversized vehicle is much more taxing than driving a regular-sized car, so there’s no room for distractions. Besides getting enough rest, it is important to not take any medications that make you feel drowsy or sick. Texting is among the worst distractions, and it is illegal for a commercial vehicle driver for a reason. 

If you have to urgently make a call, you must dial the number using no more than one button. Drinking, eating, listening to music, reading maps, and interacting with a navigational device can take your focus off the road. Do these activities before you start driving to minimize the risk of accidents. 

Seek the Help of a Charleston Car Accident Lawyer 

If you have been a victim of a truck accident, Charleston accident attorneys at Salango Law recommend getting the appropriate legal representation in order to maximize the compensation that you deserve. These reputable attorneys will handle all the legal paperwork for you while you can solely focus on receiving medical treatment and overcoming emotional distress from the accident.

Founder, Editor-in-Chief Carmelo Pickel is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Keep Driving, with almost 20 years of experience working in the industry. Before founding Keep Driving, Carmelo held leadership roles for over a decade on top automotive dealership corporations across North America, handling various leadership roles in Sales, Marketing, and Incentives.
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