January 13, 2023
5 Defensive Driving Tips for Rookie Truckers
You’re new to the trucking world and just got your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). You’ve attended the classes, taken, and passed the tests, now you’re about to take on your first trucking job. You’ll do great, just practice what you learned in school and make sure to drive defensively. Defensive driving is when someone uses driving techniques that reduce the dangers on the road despite adverse conditions or the mistakes of others.
Keeping yourself, your truck, other motorists, and your cargo safe is how truckers succeed on the road. There are many ways to continuously improve your defensive driving skills — and reduce your risks while on the road. Before you put your foot on the gas pedal and head down the highway, take a few moments to read these five defensive driving tips before putting your career into drive.
1. Shift your eyes while you drive
Being a truck driver is not for the faint of heart. You have to be on your toes at all times. The best way to avoid a collision is by making sure that you’re always looking at what’s happening around you — especially when changing lanes or merging into traffic from an exit ramp. This means not just focusing on your immediate surroundings and checking mirrors but also looking further down the road for potential hazards.
2. Be hyper-aware of your surroundings
We’ve all heard the expression “it’s not what you see at first glance that causes accidents, it’s what you don’t see.” It holds true for driving a big rig as well.
Not only do you want to keep an eye on what’s in front of you, but you also want to keep an eye on what’s around you. This can be achieved by always checking your mirrors before changing lanes or merging onto the highway and being sure to look over your shoulder when changing lanes or merging onto a highway.
Not to mention, it’s important not only to watch what’s happening in front of your truck but also behind it. When driving a tractor trailer, there is so much room behind the cab that it would be easy for someone to pull up right behind your vehicle without being seen until it was too late.
3. Anticipate surprises during your trip
Defensive driving is often about being reactive so you can anticipate the obstacles that come at you. It may seem like an easy task, but when something unexpected happens on the road, it can be difficult to react quickly enough to avoid an accident.
One way to get better at anticipating events is by practicing with a simulator. This can help you become more comfortable with what will happen if something unexpected happens on the road ahead of you.
An example this is being prepared for other drivers trying to push in front of you at every opportunity. This can especially become an issue when merging onto the highway or exiting offramps because people will try to get ahead of you even if there isn’t enough room for everyone (or if it isn’t safe).
4. Check on what the weather will do down the road
This one goes hand-in hand with anticipation. Being able to predict, or at least have a general idea of what the weather will be like while you’re driving, will allow you to prepare accordingly whether that means taking a different route, going over severe weather driving tips to refresh your memory, or packing an emergency kit.
5. Keep your distance from other drivers
If you’re a new truck driver, you should be aware of the importance of keeping your distance from other vehicles. Especially if you’re doing city driving. So, how much space do you need to be safe? The answer is simple: more than you think. The standard answer given at truck-driving school is three seconds. That’s how much time it takes a car traveling at 55 mph to get from one side of your lane to the other. At 65 mph, it’s four seconds. At 70 mph, five seconds.
When things go wrong on the road, there’s usually not enough time for both vehicles involved to react properly. If one vehicle gets into an accident or has trouble slowing down, giving yourself enough space will help prevent accidents from happening in the first place!
Don’t just be a great trucker, be a safe trucker If you’re new to the trucking industry, you may not know the ins and outs of defensive driving yet. It’s not enough to just be a great truck driver — you also must know how to be a safe driver. By mastering these five tips you will have taken the first steps to becoming a top-notch, professional trucker.