A Message to Newly Licensed Truck Drivers
Having a truck license does not mean you are a good or safe driver: So you have finally passed your trucker’s course? You have got your brand new license, a nice new job and a whole lot of enthusiasm. Before you get too excited, always remember that just because you have your truck driver’s license does not mean you are a good or safe driver.
Driving a normal car is difficult but with the added weight and length of a truck, you are increasing your risk tenfold. On top of that, you have to take into careful consideration the road surface, weather conditions, fatigue levels, and your stopping distance will definitely be different when compared to driving a smaller vehicle.
Things to be aware of:
Truck driving is very tiring: Often truck drivers have to wake up at very early hours of the day in order to drive to their depot, load the truck and head to the destination. Most of the time truck drivers travel across vast distances, and the fatigue associated with constant long-distance driving is one of the biggest causes of accidents around the world.
You share the road with lunatics: Unfortunately, there are people on the road who tend to forget that your vehicle is a lot bigger than theirs. Due to larger blind spots, and an increased stopping distance due to the weight of your truck, it makes it difficult to just stop your vehicle mid-stride.
Travelling through an assortment of road types: There will be times where you will be lucky to travel through wide, straight, flat roads, but then there may be times where you will be required by your employer to travel up mountains, down valleys, through winding roads and narrow tunnels. If driving on these roads wasn’t difficult enough, you now have the added concern of your weight which decreases your ability to move and the required speed in order to move forward.
You have much larger blind spots: Due to the size of trucks, as well as the elevation from the ground, the driver experiences a much greater blind spot. Blind spots are areas of obstruction where things like cars and other road hazards are obstructed from view. Get into the habit of checking your mirrors often to ensure you are not missing anything.
Drive to the conditions: Most novice drivers of any type of vehicle overlook the need to adjust their speed according to the conditions. When it rains, the road is wet which means the tyres do not stick as well to the road’s surface. On top of that, the brake pads are wet which means that the stopping distance is further increased combined with less friction to the road. Drivers who do not practise caution when driving in rough weather tend to crash or skid when driving.
Arrogance: Sometimes it is prudent to know the limit of your abilities. Often new truck drivers or employers try to push for faster runs. When you drive for more than 10 hours across the country, this makes it difficult to stay awake. When experiencing fatigue, the body and mind become sluggish and as a result, the reaction time needed in order to perform tasks such as slowing down or stopping is increased. The consumption of alcohol or prohibited substances also aid in the decrease in the drivers’ reaction speed. This sort of negligence is one of the top killers of drivers across the world.
Employment Testing: Beware that in recent years although it has been easier to get a truck driver’s license, and drive with a company the next day. It is always good to ensure you have sufficient practise and training because due to the increasing trend of trucking accidents, many organisations will request a competency assessment and print outs of your driving record before employing you and letting you loose in their trucks.
We know how great it is to gain a new qualification or license and now that you have a trucker’s driving license, you are entering an exciting but demanding field. Each day is a challenge and an adventure, but safety must always be your number one priority especially when you share the road with a lot of smaller vehicles.
We all want you to come home to our families after a day of work and many of us need to use the roads to get home, so let’s try to make them as safe as possible for all road users.