When in doubt, take it slow.
It’s the same advice your dad and your driver’s ed teacher gave you, and it still holds true today—taking it slow on the road is the easiest way to avoid any sort of accident. We get it—many fleet drivers get paid more for making timely deliveries and putting the pedal to the metal. However, is a faster delivery really worth it if you’re risking the personal injury of you or others on the road?
There are plenty of times on the road where you can push the pace and make good time, but there are other places where you need to slow down a little and make sure you have control over your vehicle. Make sure you stay aware while you’re on the road so you know when to speed it up and when to slow it down.
Check your tires frequently.
Your tires are literally where the rubber meets the road—their condition is crucial for your safety and overall success during a trip. If your tires are worn down, bald, or punctured, you could have poor traction that could lead to a slide off the road, or a blown tire that could send you careening into a guardrail.
To avoid these scary situations, make sure you check the overall quality and tread depth of your tires frequently to make sure they’re in good shape. If your tires don’t look so good, or you have a tire that seems to be in particularly poor shape, follow your fleet company’s protocol for tire replacement and repair, or stop by the nearest big rig repair shop if you have a tire emergency.
If you’re tired, take a break.
Long hours on the road can be draining—but oftentimes, fleet drivers will keep pushing through in order to make good time and get their goods where they need to go. They’ll buy a cup of coffee or a Red Bull, turn up the music, and fight urges to rest—and it often ends in disaster. Drivers who fight urges to rest are often the ones who fall asleep at the wheel, damaging their vehicle and causing potentially fatal injuries to themselves and others driving on the road.
If you’re feeling groggy or tired, it’s time to take a break—no matter if it throws you a little off schedule. Find a rest area or a gas station, grab a snack or a drink, do a little stretching, go for a brisk walk, and shut your eyes for 20 or 30 minutes to refresh yourself before you get back on the road. Once you start driving again, you’ll feel much more awake and aware so you can continue on your journey. We’d recommend that you keep your consumption of caffeinated beverages to a minimum—while you might get a boost for awhile, it will almost certainly be followed with a crash that can make you unfit to drive.
Prepare for inclement weather.
A little rain and snow can certainly get in the way of a productive and safe road trip—that’s why it’s crucial to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature could throw at you. For snowier regions, make sure you have solid snow tires and chains if necessary, as well as cold weather gear and a scraper to keep your windows clear of snow and ice. Make sure you have tough windshield wipers to handle precipitation of any kind, and keep a flashlight on hand just in case you need some light during an intense rain or snowstorm during the night.
Finally, be sure to adjust your driving behaviors to the conditions you’re facing—trucks are known to jackknife and slide if they drive too fast on snowy roads, and they can certainly hydroplane during rainy conditions. Slow things down if you need, and deal with weather conditions as they arise.
Avoid high-traffic areas.
This isn’t always possible, especially if you have to cruise through metropolitan areas to get where you’re going. However, avoiding high-traffic roads (and times) could be one of the easiest ways to stay safe while you’re on the road. More traffic means more chances for accidents, collisions, and a variety of other driving-related problems—if you can avoid rush hour traffic and roads that are seemingly congested all the time, you’ll be much safer and more on-time deliveries to boot
That’s it for Part 1 of our series on fleet driver safety. Stay tuned for Part 2, and check out our other blogs in the meantime!