Truck drivers provide an essential service to businesses and citizens across any country. Many professionals drive for several hours at a time, covering hundreds of miles in large, bulky vehicles. Truck driver safety is of utmost importance in the trucking industry, for the sake of preserving cargo, the drivers themselves, and other vehicles on the road. The most common issues in truck driver safety are the mastering the skills unique to operating a truck in traffic, making sure the vehicle is properly maintained, and staying alert while driving. Prospective truck drivers learn about safety concerns through specialized driver training schools and on-the-job instruction in the first weeks of employment.
A major aspect of truck driver safety is the fact that operating a truck is quite different than driving a smaller vehicle. In order to maintain safety, drivers must make adjustments for stopping distance, turning ratios, and navigation of narrow city streets. Since trucks are large and heavy, they require extra time to come to a stop and wide angles to make turns. Truckers must be aware of their surroundings and the limitations of their vehicles, and drive defensively at all times. In order to protect themselves and others, drivers need to learn how to reduce their speed gradually and avoid overcorrecting when they veer off track.
Proper maintenance is essential to truck driver safety. Before a trip, a safe driver makes sure that tires are properly inflated, engine fluids are at appropriate levels, and windshields are clean and in good shape. Additionally, it is important to make sure that a truck is not overloaded with cargo, as excess weight can affect the truck's steering and performance. Drivers should frequently perform preventative maintenance on a road trip to minimize the chances of an accident.
Another common safety concern in the trucking industry is the alertness of drivers. Many companies carefully regulate the number of miles or hours a driver is allowed to go in one trip. A trucker who drives for 12 straight hours is likely to get very tired, which can have devastating effects on vision and reaction time. Professional drivers must also comply with federal laws and industry standards regarding drugs and alcohol. Most companies routinely drug test drivers in order to preserve the safety of everyone on the road.
Truck driver safety is emphasized in training programs for new drivers. Along with learning the basics of driving a heavy vehicle, individuals receive classroom and practical instruction on safety concerns. A driver must be able to demonstrate his or her safety knowledge in order to obtain a license and gain employment in the trucking industry.