04 Jun Safety Matters: Trucking
Driving a truck comes with a number of constant hazards that drivers need to be aware of in order to keep themselves and others on the road safe. Share the following Safety Matters with your drivers.
Avoiding Right Turn Squeeze Crashes
Large commercial vehicles can be challenging to maneuver, particularly on residential and city streets. Taking a turn too sharply or widely can lead to costly accidents and serious injuries. One common type of accident is the right turn squeeze crash, which occurs when a truck driver makes a wide right turn, leaving too much distance between the truck and the curb. When doing so, other drivers on the road may try to squeeze past the truck and could end up getting their vehicle caught underneath the truck’s trailer.
In order to make right turns as safe as possible, drivers should be aware of their environments and the potential challenges that they may impose. For example, a particularly narrow intersection can make right turns especially dangerous.
It is also important that the vehicles and trailers are in proper working order. A broken turn signal or a lack of adequate mirrors will make any type of driving unsafe.
There are many steps to making a turn. As a truck driver, you have a responsibility for not only your own safety, but that of pedestrians and other drivers as well. When making a right turn, adhere to the following steps in order to make the process as safe as possible:
- Prepare for the turn by moving into the right-hand lane as early as you can.
- Activate your turn signal well in advance, and reduce your speed.
- As you approach the intersection, observe the area and make sure that you will be able to safely complete the turn.
- When beginning your turn, keep the rear of your trailer in the right-hand lane and close to the curb.
- Avoid swinging wide to the left or crossing into other lanes.
- Use your mirrors to check for other vehicles, pedestrians or obstructions.
- Never back up when completing a turn.
If you are unable to finish a turn, wait for other traffic to clear to do so.
As a driver, safety should be your top priority. If you find that a turn may not be possible, it is better to take a slight detour and ensure that you will be able to get to your destination safely. A small delay is far less costly than an accident. If you have any questions about making right turns safely, talk to your supervisor.
Dealing With Sun Glare
Driving a truck comes with a number of constant hazards that you need to be aware of in order to keep yourself and others on the road safe. One hazard that can lead to serious accidents is sun
glare and its effect on your vision.
Shedding Light on the Issue
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, sun glare is listed as a contributing factor for hundreds of accidents each year, but the American Automobile Association believes the number to be higher.
The National Institute of Health conducted a study from 1995 to 2014 that looked at over 11,000 life-threatening crashes. Conditions included bright sunlight in approximately onethird of the accidents.
While sun glare is something that you do not have control over, it will not necessarily be constant. You may be driving for a considerable time or distance without an issue, but all it takes is for a cloud to move or for you to make a turn for sun glare to suddenly hinder your vision. Drivers should be prepared for sun glare and take the following precautions to limit its effects:
- Take it slow. When sun glare becomes an issue, one of the first things you should do is drive slower and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If your vision is hindered, you’ll lose reaction time and therefore be at more risk of being involved in an accident.
- Use polarized sunglasses. Wearing polarized sunglasses will eliminate glare that reflects off of surfaces such as the windows of other cars, wet pavement and even your own dashboard.
- Keep windows clean. Dirty windshields and windows can make it especially difficult to see through sun glare. Take the time to clean your windows before you get on the road.
- Clear the dashboard. Sun glare can bounce off of any reflective surface, so be cautious about keeping anything on your dashboard that could create an issue.
- Utilize guidelines. If sun glare is making it difficult for you to see the road, use lane markings to make sure that you are staying straight.
- Control what you can. Sunlight is out of your control, but you may be able to at least optimize when and how you deal with it. If possible, avoid driving when the sun is at its brightest or just above the horizon. In addition, try to find routes that allow you to travel north and south so that you can avoid driving directly into the sun.
Sun Glare Summary
In conclusion, sun glare is just one of many factors that can endanger you and anyone else on the road. In order to stay safe, drivers need to understand how to deal with all kinds of suboptimal conditions. Sun glare can be constant, or it can show up unexpectedly and suddenly. As such, drivers should be prepared and take all necessary precautions to mitigate its effects.
As a driver, safety should be your top priority. Talk to your supervisor if you have any questions or concerns about staying safe on the road while dealing with sun glare.
Opening and Closing Trailer Doors
As a truck driver, there are many hazards to be aware of. One potentially dangerous situation that you may have to deal with occurs when the truck isn’t even moving. Operating doors may sometimes seem like a simple task, but opening and closing trailer doors are leading causes of injuries for truck drivers.
When operating trailer doors, there are a number of different types of hazards that you should be aware of. These include:
- Equipment hazards—While driving, it is possible that cargo could shift in the trailer, end up leaning against the trailer doors and then fall on you when you open the doors. Trailer doors themselves can also be hazardous, as they can be caught in the wind and strike you if they are not secured properly.
- Environmental hazards—These hazards include potholes, ice and mud surrounding the vehicle that can cause slips, trips and falls. As previously mentioned, wind can also be a hazard if it catches a trailer door. The resulting force can cause the door to strike you.
- Behavioral hazards—Behavioral hazards result from being negligent or rushing.
These are hazards that you can control. It is necessary for drivers to follow proper procedures and take every precaution each time they are opening and closing a trailer door. Some examples of negligent behavior that cause this type of hazard include standing in the path of falling cargo, failing to use a door strap, and ignoring or disregarding potential environmental hazards.
When operating a trailer door, it is important to take note of the potential hazards and then make sure that you are following general safety precautions. Follow these steps in order to reduce the likelihood of injury:
- Stretch before operating a trailer door in order to minimize the chance of straining your back or shoulders.
- Check for slip, trip and fall hazards in the area.
- Observe the area for other people, vehicles or possible obstructions that could be in the radius of the trailer doors.
- Identify an escape path in case you need to get away from a swinging door or falling cargo in a hurry.
- Check the direction and strength of the wind.
- Use door straps when appropriate.
- Push against the doors to check if there is shifted cargo leaning against them. Do not open them all the way unless you are certain it is safe.
- If cargo is leaning up against the doors, close and lock the door and then find help. Do not attempt to catch falling cargo.
- Always stand outside the radius of a swinging door to limit the risk of being struck by it.
- In the event that a trailer door is caught by the wind, do not attempt to catch or hold on to it.
- If you are able to open the doors safely, be sure to secure them properly to the side of your trailer.
Getting your cargo to its destination on time is a key element of being a truck driver, but an even more important part of the job is safety. If you have any questions about operating trailer doors, talk to your supervisor.
Preventing Lane Change Crashes
Trucks are bigger and heavier than most vehicles on the road. As such, they require more space to maneuver and can cause more damage in the event of a crash. If your truck collides with another vehicle, it can set off a chain reaction that may include several vehicles, considerable damage and severe injuries. When driving a truck, one action that has a high risk of leading to an accident is making a lane change.
Preventing lane change crashes starts before you even get on the road. Get ahead of the game by following these steps:
- Set your GPS device before you start driving so that you are not distracted trying to do so later.
- If driving on the highway, know your exit number ahead of time.
- Talk to dispatch before your trip about any potential delays, construction or detours that might affect you.
- Inspect your mirrors to make sure that they are clean and aligned properly.
- Make sure that your seat is positioned so that you can see the full surfaces of all mirrors.
On the Road
Once you’re en route, the risks and hazards of the road come in all shapes and sizes. Maximize your own safety, and that of others on the road, with these tips:
- Limit your lane changes by staying in one lane as much as possible.
- When considering making a lane change, such as to pass a slower vehicle, observe traffic conditions around you. If you are not able to execute a pass quickly, it can affect many other vehicles and the overall flow of traffic.
- Obey all traffic laws and avoid speeding.
- Do not follow too closely. Maintain a minimum six-second following distance.
- Avoid distractions, such as talking on your cellphone. If you need to make a call, pull over or park before doing so.
It is important to take your time and plan ahead when making a lane change. Properly executing the maneuver can be an extended process, so remember these steps in order to minimize risk:
- Activate your turn signal well in advance, and be aware that drivers in your blind spots may not be able to see it.
- Leave your signal on and check your side mirrors multiple times to make sure the lane is clear.
- Check your blind spots by slowing down to allow other vehicles to appear in your mirror, or by using the “lean and look” method.
- Once you believe that it is safe to make a lane change, do so slowly and continue checking your mirrors throughout the maneuver.
- Do not be forceful. If you are not able to make a lane change before your exit, get off at the next one. A delay is far less costly than a crash.
Lane change crashes can be costly and dangerous for everyone involved. If you have any questions about making lane changes safely, talk to your supervisor.
Skin Safety for Drivers
You may not think it, but as a truck driver, you may be exposed to harmful sun rays, especially while sitting in a truck cab for many hours every day. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UV (ultraviolet) rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes. When you spend most of your day on the road, sun exposure adds up. While the windshield of a vehicle may lessen the amount of UVB rays that enter the cab, side windows typically don’t. And, in general, glass does not protect against UVA rays. You also risk sun exposure when you are loading your trailer, washing your rig or stopping
for a meal or break.
Unprotected sun exposure can lead to painful sunburns and even skin cancer. Some visible effects of sun damage include freckles, wrinkles, skin leathering, loose or dry skin, spider veins and age spots. Here are some sun protection tips to consider when getting ready for your route:
- Wear sunscreen daily—Broad-spectrum sunscreen offers protection from both harmful UVA and UVB rays. Consider a sunscreen in the range of SPF 30 to SPF 50. A water-resistant sunscreen will keep you protected while sweating.
- Be mindful of peak hours—The sun tends to be the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. While driving can’t always be avoided during that time, take extra precautions during the middle of the day.
- Adjust your wardrobe—Wear clothes and hats that shield your skin and provide extra coverage to your arms, legs, face and neck. Not all fabrics and colors provide equal protection. Choose dark or bright colors and densely woven cloth, like denim or synthetic fabrics. Pay special attention to the left side of your body.
- Wear quality sunglasses—Invest in high-quality sunglasses labeled to block both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound sunglasses provide the best protection for your eyes and skin on your face.
- Screen yourself regularly—Early detection is critical to treatment options.
Be mindful of any skin discoloration or changes, and discuss them with your physician. If you have questions or concerns about skin safety while driving, talk to your supervisor.