Driving a heavy vehicle comes loaded with a responsibility. As a driver of a large-sized vehicle, you owe a duty of care to other drivers on the road, your employer and other stakeholders too. Of course, your personal safety is at stake too.
Responsible driving can easily become your habit if you practice mindfulness and good driving habits. Let’s discuss some tips that can ensure safety while driving heavy vehicles.
1. Speeding Is A hazard
Driving within safe speed limits is crucial for personal safety and the safety of the vehicles nearby. Most of the roadways have signboards indicating the speed limit for traffic. You should always follow the speed limit as indicated. As a general rule, never drive at a speed more than 100 kmph.
Sometimes you may need to adjust your vehicle speed depending on the road and weather conditions, particularly if you’re driving in rainy or snow season.
If you drive an excavator, you’ll need to be extra cautious of the inclines and declines, and inspect the area of excavation before you venture with the machine.
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2. Use Of Seatbelts
Wearing seatbelts is mandatory. Many lives have been saved in major road accidents just by the saving grace of seatbelts.
You should also pay attention that the seatbelt is well adjusted for your physique and driving level. If there’s a teammate accompanying you on the ride, he/she should be wearing a seatbelt while the truck is moving. If the other person is occupying the bunk, then proper netting and/or belt should be used for safety.
3. Don’t Ignore Fatigue
If you’re not well rested, you should avoid driving altogether. Fatigue affects the driver’s alertness and reaction time. Driving while tired or sleepy can prove to be fatal.
If you think you’re unable to maintain concentration, or if you’ve been yawning much too often; you should pull over and take a break. In any case, you should not drive unless well rested. Follow the rules regarding hours of work and rest prescribed under the law.
4. Keep Safe Distance
Heavy and oversized vehicles are not easy to maneuver. Truck drivers need to be very careful while assessing the distance from other vehicles before changing or making turns. Any neglect on part of the truck driver or the driver of a vehicle nearby can lead to disasters on the highway.
You should always drive at a safe distance from other vehicles. This will ensure that there is ample space to maneuver the truck in case of urgency. Safe driving distance becomes all the more crucial when the driving conditions are unfavorable.
5. Use Headlights And Signals
As a matter of safe driving practice, headlights and trailer lights must always be turned on while driving. In the night and while passing through tunnels, your vehicle may not be visible to other drivers in the absence of the lights. In such cases, they may not be able to adjust and avoid collision or any other kind of mishap.
Drivers should also keep the lights clean and in good working condition. Otherwise, the vehicle’s visibility may be compromised.
6. Be Careful With Cruise Control
The cruise control feature makes driving rather comfortable and convenient, especially if you’re up for a long haul. But truck drivers particularly need to be careful while using the cruise control in their heavy vehicles. Don’t use cruise control, unless you’re absolutely confident of favorable and familiar driving conditions. Wet or snow covered roads offer less traction, and cruise control should be avoided in such conditions. Also avoid using cruise control if you’re driving amongst heavy traffic.
7. Adopt Safe Loading And Unloading Methods
Your responsibility as a heavy vehicle driver is not restricted to the times when your vehicle is in motion. It extends beyond. You should be mindful about how and where you park the vehicle to ensure safety for all. Even while loading and unloading the truck, you need to be extra careful.
Always pull the trailer breaks when you make a halt at the docking station. Make sure that the dock plate has been released before you begin pulling out of the docking station. Maneuver your vehicle carefully around the docking yard, especially if you’re unloading in the night shift.
8. Check The Vehicle Road
Poorly loaded heavy vehicles can cause major accidents on the road. If the load is not restrained well on the vehicle, it could come off the vehicle and cause irreparable damage to property or injury to any person. Overloaded vehicles can also create imbalance and lead to accidents.
9. Tackle Glare
Blinding glare from the sun or reflecting sunlight can lead to fatal road accidents. Use good quality polarized sunglasses to filter the glare. Driving sunglasses are specially designed with curved lenses and narrow frames to allow perfect viewing on the road.
10. Rule Of 3-Points Contact
You must have learnt the basic rule of 3-points contact in your driver training. You’re always supposed to have both hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand in contact with your vehicle while climbing in or out. When you’ve been on the job for too long, it’s easy to get casual about rules and guidelines. To avoid injuries, don’t take this rule casually.