Long haul trucking is a crucial job for the U.S. economy. Drivers help ensure timely delivery of goods and materials. But Over-the-Road (OTR) driving can be a dangerous job. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 116,000 people were injured in 2015 due to accidents involving large trucks. To help prevent further incidents, we've put together some OTR safety tips.
1. Avoid Distractions
Drivers must constantly keep an eye out for adverse weather conditions, other drivers, construction zones, and more. So it’s important for them to concentrate and maintain focus. But over-the-road drivers can become easily distracted by a number of things throughout the day. Distractions increase the risk of an accident. Here’s what you need to watch out for.
OTR drivers often put in long hour shifts. It’s often very tempting for them to play movies, watch videos, and use their cell phones to help pass the time. Phones are one of the biggest distractions for OTR drivers. Check your local regulations and company policies about hands-free options.
The same goes for using a GPS. Drivers should only enter their routes and adjust the settings when parked in safe place.
Drivers need to be smart about what they pack in their lunches. Leftover spaghetti and meatballs? Probably not the best idea. Try to pack foods that don’t require you to use any utensils. Leave those soups and noodles at home.
Other OTR Safety Tips for Avoiding Distractions
- Focus on the road - don’t let your mind wander to billboards, scenery, or other external distractions
- Don’t use the dispatch device while driving
- Don’t read, write, or use paper maps while driving
2. Overcome Fatigue
Driver drowsiness is a hot topic for this industry. In recent years, several state and federal laws have resulted from this problem. In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set the following limits:
- Maximum average work week: 70 hours
- Drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours can resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours. Must include at least two nights between the hours of 1-5 a.m
- Drivers must take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift
- Maximum daily driving limit: 11 hours (same as before)
Looking for more OTR safety tips on how to reduce fatigue? It’s equally important for drivers to get enough sleep, eat right, and exercise.
3. Drive for the Conditions
Drivers must constantly be aware of their surroundings. They need to pay attention to the road conditions, and adjust their speed accordingly. Situations that often require drivers to slow down, include:
- Weather conditions
- Curves in the road
- Entrance ramps and exits
- Driving with a loaded trailer
OTR drivers must also slow down when driving through construction zones. Roughly 25% of all work zone fatalities involve a large truck. Don’t let yours be one of them.
4. Wear Your Seat Belt
Drivers should always wear their seat belts. Not just because it’s the law, but because it’s the smart thing to do. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), wearing a seat belt doubles your chances of surviving a crash.
Seat belts prevent drivers and occupants from getting thrown out of the vehicle. Someone who is ejected from a vehicle has a much higher risk of getting hurt or killed.
Don’t let your drivers become another statistic. Make sure they always wear their seat belts.
Follow these OTR safety tips and help reduce the number of traffic accidents. These simple steps could save the lives of your drivers, and others on the road.