Professional driving is a tough gig. It’s also one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. That’s because driving any kind of vehicle is a dangerous proposition. There are thousands of things that can go wrong and there are millions of variables to deal with.
Professional drivers face far greater exposure to losses than your average automobile driver, simply because they’re on the road for more than 100,000 miles a year. There are a million things that can lead to an accident, but all of them involve human behaviors. Statistically, 85% of the unsafe behaviors that lead to accidents involving heavy trucks are committed by amateur drivers, not professional truck drivers. However, we hold professional truck drivers to a higher standard. In fact, we expect them to allow for the mistakes of others and prevent accidents from happening.
Here are nine simple rules that can help your drivers avoid accidents even when the other guy is driving like a menace. Please share them with your drivers.
1. Drive LLLC- The principles of LLLC-Look Ahead, Look Around, Leave Room and Communicate- are the foundation for defensive driving. Adopting these principles into your daily driving habits will help you avoid accidents.
2. Always Signal- The “C” in LLLC is Communication. Signaling is the easiest and best way to communicate your intentions to other drivers. You’re a big vehicle with blind spots - do not assume that because you checked your mirrors five seconds ago that someone didn’t speed their way into your blind spot.
3. Respect Mother Nature- When road conditions change, or adverse weather comes, adjust your speed and distance. It doesn’t matter if you’re running late for a delivery- if the road is wet or icy, or visibility is poor, slow down. Professional drivers know this basic rule when late, stay late. You can’t make a delivery if you go sliding off of the highway into a ravine.
4. Practice Good Maintenance- A thorough pre-trip inspection can be the difference between making it home safely or spending the night in the hospital. Would you let your wife or children drive the family van with bad breaks or worn tires? Discovering an issue in the middle of the trip wastes your time and costs you money. Be sure your rig is fit for the road before you pull out.
5. Get Your Rest- Never drive tired. And don’t fool yourself thinking enough caffeine will solve the problem. As your schedule allows, try to go to get to sleep at about the same time every day. This can be a challenge when running over the road, but ideally you can establish a rhythm. Avoid caffeine late into your shift or you may find yourself lying in bed with a racing heart. At the end of the shift, take time to walk, run or get some other form of exercise.
6. Plan Your Trip In Advance- Set up your GPS and have your directions ready in a touch free environment. Be sure to allow for necessary stops along the way. You want to focus on your driving when you’re driving. Taking your eyes off the road for just a moment to fiddle with gadgets can get you into an accident.
7. Wear Your Seatbelt- You’ve known this one since you were four years old. Always buckle up. That handsome face looks a lot better behind the wheel than through the windshield.
8. Take Extra Care in Construction Zones- It’s summer out there which means torn up roads and orange barrels. Exercise caution working in these areas. Watch for workers running around. They might not be watching out for you. Beware of heavy equipment moving about or entering the highway. Assume the four-wheelers are going to fly up next to you playing barrel tag. They all do it. And though cut in front of you at the last second and then slam on their brakes. Slow down and leave more room.
9. Put The Phone Away- It’s dangerous enough to have all the four wheelers out there messing around on their phones. People can’t walk and text, so what makes you think you can drive and text? You’re a professional- don’t touch your phone when you’re behind the wheel.
Please, use our modern Defensive Driving System, LLLC Instructor and Driver Certification and make these nine rules a habit.