Most of us have to work to earn a living, and everyone wants to have a safe work experience while on the job. There are many aspects of a truck driver’s daily routine that present us with potential dangers we have to look out for. Inclement weather probably tops the list. Snow and ice can not only hinder our travels, but can potentially lead to unthinkable situations. Thunderstorms, hail, and fog can also top the list of dangers we may encounter on the road. Seasoned drivers know to “drive to conditions”. Driving in adverse conditions can be tricky at times, but with a proper pre-trip inspection, you can feel more at ease that your truck is ready for the task. Always be aware of changing weather conditions, and slow down or pull over accordingly. Before starting a trip and when taking breaks from driving, it’s always a good idea to check the weather of the areas you are driving into in order to be better prepared for what lies ahead.
Most of us are well aware of the weather hazards, and try our best to take precautions to minimize the risks, but there are many other curveballs that cannot be expected. Driving without headlights on in bad weather is the number one problem that I see while out on the road. With all the great automation in today’s cars and trucks, light sensing headlights still need some improvements in my opinion. Illuminated dash lights can give drivers a false sense that all their lights are on, when in fact none are lit. In the late afternoon, it may not be dark enough for the vehicle to turn on the lights, yet the setting sun makes it more difficult to see these vehicles. Today’s trucks are more efficient and safer than ever, but until full automation comes to fruition, drivers must ensure lights are functioning when needed. Personally, I drive with all my lights on all the time. Bulbs may burn out quicker, but for me, it is just the cost of safety and the safety of others. Nowadays, most lights are LED and will last much longer than regular bulbs. In fact, my last truck, a Cascadia, never needed an LED light changed in nearly 5 years of use. My current Western Star also has LED lights and I will certainly see them working for years to come even with them turned on every time I turn the ignition key.
I can empathize with the driver who has a flat tire while driving, but to keep going and sling chunks of tire or an entire tread at other drivers is dangerous, yet we see it all the time. No matter the number of wheels you have, always pull over if you have a flat tire for your safety and the safety of those around you.
There are so many different hazards that we can encounter on the road as truck drivers. Preparation, common sense, and situational awareness can help minimize these and other driving dangers. Watch your mirrors, watch the other drivers, and watch the weather. We can’t control a lot of things, but we can control our own actions on the road.