Certain characteristics of trucks and the challenges that arise with driving several hours straight every day increase the risk of trucking accidents. Businesses in the process of staffing truck drivers can reduce the risk of accidents by improving their trucking guidelines and considering services that are safe and professional. Managers responsible for fleet safety, particularly, need to recognize the safety issues that surround truckers when they drive for long periods and encourage safe driving practices.
While statistics gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2016 show that only 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths involved large trucks, these accidents are more catastrophic and can cause more severe forms of injury than those involving only personal use vehicles. Commercial trucks often result in serious accidents because of the huge size and weight disparity compared to regular cars. They require a greater stopping distance and also have a higher risk of rolling or riding over small vehicles.
Common Safety Issues
The likelihood of a car accident increases when drivers pay less attention on the road. Drivers can become distracted when they multitask (e.g. talking on the phone or letting their minds wander) as it makes it more difficult for them to concentrate on the task at hand. They need to keep their eyes on the road and mentally register what they see at the same time. Actively taking in the environment means the driver can react appropriately to unexpected movements or rapid traffic slowdowns. However, drivers can find it difficult to focus and concentrate on the road after driving for many hours.
Truckers in the transportation industry are at greater risk of fatigue because they drive for a living and fatigue cannot be overcome with willpower alone. This means they experience slower reaction times, lower attention spans and concentration levels, and an increase in driving errors. They become more susceptible to distracted driving. Employers that recognize the effects that sleep deprivation and physical and mental exhaustion can have on driving safety should ensure that driver schedules are well spread out and that they take weather and road conditions into account.
Drivers need to be able to recognize and respond to changing environmental and road conditions. They can, for instance, turn their headlights and wipers on to decrease the safety risk brought by rain or snow. They can also decrease speed, increase following distance, and provide more time for lane changes. Truckers may need to pull over or use an alternate route if road or weather conditions are too severe.
Proper Truck Inspection
Most companies require a vehicle inspection before a trip. However, drivers can overlook or hasten this process because of lack of time, bad weather, or complacency. Constant monitoring and supervision of inspection habits ensures that inspections are timely and properly conducted. If truckers are encouraged to take greater responsibility for their truck and their safety, it reduces the likelihood of maintenance issues getting forgotten, undocumented, or uncommunicated.
Safe driving habits can reduce risk of a road accident. Companies should find ways to help truckers combat driving distractions and fatigue while on the road.