When you sign up for a career in trucking, most of your journeys will be behind the wheel. For most drivers this is the best place in the world to be, but as you continue in your career, you will learn the dangers of living behind the wheel. From natural hazards like snow, ice, wildlife, and wind, to dangerous drivers, poorly marked signage, and fatigue, there are many obstacles a driver may face on his journey from pickup to delivery. It is up to the driver to understand how to face them.
Highways and Byways
America’s road system is incredibly vast. There are 4.18 million miles of roads (artba.org/) and over 164,000 miles of those 4.18 million are highways (dot.gov). This is a massive expanse and there are drivers on all parts of these highways all the time because transport is a necessarily huge industry. As a long-haul driver, you will likely encounter many of these miles. There are many factors to keep track of to ensure you are staying safe that local drivers are usually less concerned with including, driver fatigue, loss of cell service in case of emergency, and truck theft hotspots.
As a local driver who stays in a regional area, you will most likely avoid predatory truck thieves, but you will become well acquainted with driving in crowded areas. Many regional drivers spend much of their time traveling on roads within towns and cities, and these tend to get busy especially around mealtimes. In addition to this, regional drivers are more subject to needing to watch out for events, detours, and pedestrians, as these are all more probable obstacles on main streets than the interstate.
The Path You Choose
Whether you choose the local or long-haul route, driving can be a fulfilling career with the benefit of getting to know the nation or your local area better. However, safety behind the wheel is the most important thing to consider as you embark on your next journey. Here is a quick pneumonic tool to help you remember important safety tips and tricks for all modes of driving: SAFE, Start your journey with a truck inspection, Ask questions when you are unsure, Follow all speed and safety regulations, Expect that something may go wrong and have a plan to adapt.
While remaining vigilant and following safety regulations is hopefully intuitive, the other concepts may be new to you. Starting your trip off on the right foot is quite simple, making sure you got enough sleep and have the right supplies in your truck can be a great first step. Before you embark on your next journey, you should check up on your truck by performing a quick inspection on the tires, brakes, fluid levels, lights, and doors/locks, which can save your truck and even your life (or someone else’s).
Now for asking questions and expecting something to go wrong, these two go hand in hand. If you are ever unsure about something regarding your route or your truck, asking questions about it can always be a great place to start. As you are creating a game plan for if something goes wrong with your truck or you face a road hazard, ask questions to your company or more experienced drivers who will gladly give you safety tips!
As you go about getting ready for your next journey, reflect on your current safety practices to see what’s good and functional and try to remediate what may be unsafe. Having a safe drive will expedite your trip, ensure you are less stressed, and keep the American transport and highway system running smoothly. Thank you for your service!