CMV Safe Driving Habits
Safe driving gets started with creating safe habits. Those habits include more than just defensive driving skills and speed and space management. It also includes planning your route, using tools made specifically for CMV drivers, such as GPS and paper maps, daily inspections and upkeep of equipment and taking care of your own health and well-being (breaks, sleep, eating healthy, etc).
Planning in advance of your trip allows you to factor in possible delays, road construction, rush hour traffic, weather conditions, hours-of-service compliance and possible wait times at a dock/customer. If you utilize a GPS designed for truckers, you have access to information about low overpasses and bridges, road restrictions and upcoming scales. A trucker’s atlas, which is never subject to satellite reception, also provides key information on state laws, mileage charts, and scale locations. These tools can help you better estimate the amount of time for your trip, plan stops, determine arrival time and meet scheduled deliveries/pickups. Good trip planning leads to less stress and less pressure to push yourself to meet deadlines.
Inspections and Equipment Upkeep
Daily pre-trip inspections and periodic equipment inspections throughout your trips can prevent bigger problems and unsafe conditions. Defects in brakes can prevent a driver from being able to make defensive braking maneuvers should someone pulls out in front of you or if unexpected objects cross your path. Tire maintenance and proper inflation not only helps maximize fuel efficiency, but also prevents serious hazards such as a tire blowout. Losing control of your vehicle resulting in an accident is one of the biggest dangers of tire failure. Properly working lights allows other drivers to see you and keeps your own surroundings visible. Signal lights help you communicate to other drivers what you are doing so signal early and keep it on until your move is completed. Finding defects and fixing them before you hit the road is the best way to prevent potentially devastating safety problems.
Health & Well Being
A healthy lifestyle, while not easy on the road, is a key component of being a safe and alert driver. Getting the rest your body needs, eating properly and taking time to move when possible, allows your body to fight off fatigue and other health problems. When you stop at a pickup or delivery, take a moment to walk around a bit, stretch and get your body moving. Sitting for long periods of time can lead to fatigue, back pain and even blood clots. Drink water instead of sugary, high-caloric beverages. Many Americans do not drink the recommended amount of water the body needs to flush out toxins and hydrate properly. Eight, 8-oz. glasses of water per day is the minimum recommendation. Although making healthier eating choices has gotten a little easier, it does take effort and will power to not go the way of high fat, fast food. Sleep deprivation also has a significant negative impact on your health. Lack of sleep can slow reaction time, reduce judgment and cause a loss of coordination. It also leads to a bad attitude/mood, which is not ideal for any driver because that can result in unsafe situations when someone cuts you off or when an aggravating situation happens on your trip. Your weight, diet, exercise, sleep patterns and attitude all contribute to your overall health and your overall safety on the road.
Defensive driving involves a lot of factors. While we only discussed a few in this issue, we hope to cover more topics about safe driving habits in future ICD Freight Driver’s Deck issues. For questions or topic suggestions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more safety topics online at www.icdfreight.com.