Preventing Trucker Accidents: What Every Driver Needs To Know

Professional driving is not an easy career and one that certainly has the potential for both injury and accidents. Most injuries are caused by slips and falls, twisting when getting into or out of the truck or injuries when loading or unloading. These types of injuries are often significant and severe, but they are not as deadly as accidents on the road.

It is estimated that a semi-truck is in an accident on the road once every 16 minutes. If you include all commercial vehicles, including trucks and trailers, the total for the year 2010 was over half a million accidents. In these accidents there were over 100,000 individuals that were injured and 5000 deaths. While injuries from accidents are a real possibility for drivers in the big rigs, the majority, over 80% of all deaths occurring in semi-truck accidents, are to the drivers of the passenger cars involved in the crash.

Surprisingly most happen in the daylight hours, not at night, and most of the severe accidents happen outside of cities. This is often due to the speed factor as in congested city traffic speeds are reduced significantly. To avoid or take precautions as much as possible to reduce the likelihood of being in an accident there are some important and common issues that professional drivers should consider when they are out on the road.

Jackknife Truck Accidents

Jackknifing is a very serious issue that can occur for a variety of reasons. In this type of issue the trailer actually turns sideways to the truck, creating a condition where the driver has no control over the tractor and trailer.

The most common causes of jackknifing are slippery roads, poor tire maintenance on the trailer or sudden application of the brakes. The trailer tires lose grip with the surface of the road and, under the right conditions, the trailer swings out of control to the side.

New trucks may have specific systems in place, including anti-lock brakes, which help to prevent jackknifing situations. Slowing down on wet or slippery roads, gearing down instead of using the brakes and controlled, even breaking can help to prevent this very dangerous condition on the road.

While it is difficult it is not impossible to stop jackknifing if you see the trailer start to swing you can take countermeasures to prevent a jackknife. Generally experts recommend letting off on the brake and accelerating slightly to reposition the trailer in a straight line with the tractor. You can then slow down by gearing down and apply the brakes in a controlled fashion when the vehicle speed is reduced. Also avoiding braking and sudden direction changes, especially with an empty trailer that is not as heavy, can reduce the risk of jackknifing.

Road Fatigue

Road fatigue can occur when driving for short or long distances and is not the same as being exhausted from lack of sleep. You will know that you are experiencing road fatigue if you find your thoughts drifting away from focusing on the road. You may experience almost a trance-like state where you suddenly realize you aren’t sure where you are on the road or what exit you just passed.

If you are experiencing road fatigue the best possible remedy is a brisk walk outside of the truck. Some fresh air and exercise will help you to focus and stay alert. When you are in a state of road fatigue you aren’t watching other traffic issues and will be slow to respond to situations on the road.

Roll Overs

Roll overs are most often seen on corners and on and off ramps during wet, icy or slippery road conditions. They are usually related to the center of gravity on the truck, excessive speed for the road condition and the change in centrifugal force with sudden changes in direction, braking or over-steering. Weaving back and forth or having to over correct when wandering out of a lane is another major cause, especially if the load shifts with the side to side movement of the trailer.

Not surprisingly the best way to avoid roll overs is to slow down well before curves, especially with high loads or loads that can shift. The center of gravity on these loads and the weight of the load shifting to the outside (centrifugal force) on the corners is less of an issue with slow speeds and measured direction changes rather that sudden cornering, over-steering or high rates of speed.

Blind Spots

Truck drivers have to be constantly alert to the blind spots along the trailer that block the driver’s view of passenger vehicles in lanes beside and behind them. These passenger vehicle drivers are often unaware of the blind spots, despite information posted on trailers highlighting the blind spots, and pull out into these zones and drive.

Checking and double checking blind spots and changing lanes slowly and only when you are sure there are no vehicles surround you in the blind spots is critical. Slowing down and staying distant from passenger vehicles that are constantly changing lanes is another important consideration.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that defensive driving, especially when you are a trucker, is one of the most important skills to keep in mind. Classes are available specifically for truckers in defensive driving that can not only help to build up your skills on the road to stay safe but they can also help to reduce your insurance rates, which is something well worth considering.

Save As Much Money As Possible On Gas

Today’s economy has indeed developed, but the price of the fuel is still high and there might always be the possibility to reach the end of the available deposits of gasoline all across the world. It doesn’t mean that it will happen in the next years, but at one point in the future, there won’t be any gasoline or oil to be extracted from the earth.

orange-semi-coverThis being said, everyone needs to think about reducing the use of fuel as much as possible. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop using the car that you own or the one that you work with, but this simply means that you have to be careful about reducing the use of fuel with your car as much as possible.

It’s important to be economical about the fuel you use for your car, no matter if you drive a sedan, a truck or a semi truck, because this will help you reduce the cost of the fuel but it might also make a difference in the climate changes that threaten our entire planet.

Let’s see some fuel saving tips for semi trucks, as these are some of the biggest vehicles that are used on the roads, also having some of the biggest gas tanks.

1345059823787663635semi-front-hiBe Careful at the Gas Station

If you’re not on the roads, make sure you use a gas station that you know its schedule. Try to fill up the tank early in the morning, when there’s no rush at all. When you use the gas pump, use a low setting to avoid the increase of the vapors. With a high speed, the pump will produce more vapors, reducing the quantity of gas that goes into the tank.

Apart from this, don’t let the red light blink on the dashboard – fill the tank when the tank is at between one third and half full with gas, as this will improve the fuel mileage.

Another thing that you have to be careful about is to avoid filling the tank right after the gas tanks at the gas station have been replenished. When this happens, everything that was on the bottom of the ground tanks will definitely rise to the surface of the tank, and this might cut down the fuel efficiency.

Know the Vehicle

Every vehicle uses a different type of gas, some use petrol while others use diesel fuel, so be careful what gas pump you use. Apart from this, you also need to take care of the general state of the vehicle, no matter if what you’re using is a truck or a sedan. For the trucks, it’s even more important, because they are usually used for covering big distances loaded with different items.

Keeping your truck or semi truck in a perfect functioning condition also means that you have to take care of the oil that is used for the engine, you need to tune the engine and check it regularly, and the tires also need to be in a good condition.

Be Responsible In Traffic

white-truckIt’s a known fact that those who drive aggressively are also spending more money on gas than the rest of the drivers. If you stick with the speed limits that are posted on the roads and if you avoid any idling, it’s a good chance that you will reduce the usage of fuel.

Apart from this, make sure you avoid the rush hour as much as possible or choose roads that are not blocked by accidents or anything, especially when you have to deliver a cargo or something important with your truck.

Something else that will definitely reduce the fuel use is if you turn off the air conditioning every once in a while, especially if you drive with your windows open. The AC won’t only influence the fuel consumption, but it can also influence the power that the engine develops.

Specially for the Semi Truck Drivers

When you drive a truck or a semi truck, you know how important it is for the vehicle to be in a good condition. There is more to it than simply checking everything to be in a good order, because you use the vehicle to transport large quantities of different items. Because of this, the road or the traffic is not the only ones that are important for determining the usage of fuel.

The truck needs to be with an updated PTI to make sure you can use it safely on public roads, and check if frequently for any possible problem. Apart from this, make sure that you have a regular maintenance for your truck, as this will surely improve the fuel economy.

Something else that can influence the usage of fuel is the engine speed, and no matter how powerful your truck or semi truck is, make sure you use it within the speed limits that are set for the road you drive on but also for the type of truck or semi truck that you use.