Driving a truck is a rewarding but challenging job. You play a crucial role in helping Australian industries operate smoothly, but long hours on the road can be isolating, frustrating and tiresome. Staying safe can easily fall to the wayside if you’re focused on hitting a tight deadline or contending with other erratic drivers.
But with 1227 people killed on the roads in 2017, safety isn’t something to ignore. Even the best drivers in the world need to think twice to make sure they’re putting safety first.
So, in the spirit of National Road Safety Week, here are some tips to help you get home safely.
Keep on top of rest breaks
It can be tempting to just keep pushing a little further to get the job done. Though when you’re overtired, it puts everyone on the road at risk. Fatigue slows reaction times, your mind drifts and it becomes more difficult to focus. You’re more likely to miss road signs, slow your vehicle or brake late. A three second micro sleep can be fatal. Make sure you can clearly plan your rest breaks, know where the next rest stop is and maintain an accurate logbook to guarantee you’re not being asked to do too many hours. An electronic work diary can automate all of this for you – so you can just keep your attention on the task at hand.
Plan your route
Smart route planning isn’t just about getting from A to B. It’s also thinking ahead to know the road conditions, obstacles or risks you’re likely to encounter on your trip. For long-haul drivers, it’s particularly important to consider the time spent driving overnight – statistics show you’re four times more likely to have a fatal crash between 10pm and dawn, and sunrise and sunset can limit visibility on the road. Remote and congested areas also present different safety challenges to consider, while knowing where rest stops are in advance lets you plan for breaks.
Travelling in remote areas with limited phone reception can be especially dangerous. Technology that lets you connect to back-office staff instantly via satellite is crucial for the modern truck driver. You might be confident that you’ve done the same trip many times, but a sudden emergency can happen to anyone. No matter what it is - a truck rollover, a flash flood, a health incident – it’s important to be able to stay in touch so help can be on its way quickly.
Take your safety mindset outside
Safety doesn’t stop when you get out of the truck. Research from SafeWork NSW shows thirty per cent of injuries are caused by manual handling, while one in 10 are due to falling from the cabin or back of the truck. Long stretches of time sitting in one spot, lifting heavy loads and working on uneven surfaces or in hazardous conditions are all risks to be aware of. Make sure you’re clear on procedures and don’t agree to any instructions that don’t feel safe. A pre-trip checklist before every journey and maintenance alerts when it’s time for a vehicle service are also essential to make sure your truck is safe to drive.