There is a common misconception that pickup trucks are safer than smaller vehicles. The larger size of pickup trucks often gives a heightened sense of confidence behind the wheel. But in reality, motorists are more than 150% more likely to die in a pickup truck accident than in a car accident.
When you hand an employee the keys to a company pickup truck, it’s important to ensure the vehicle is set up for safety and the driver is equipped with the knowledge to conduct themselves safely on the roads.
Here are the top tips for both drivers and small business owners to create a safer truck driving experience.
- Truck driving safety tips
- What’s the hardest thing about truck driving?
- How can I be a better truck driver?
- What is the best safety rule when driving?
- How can we improve driving safety?
Truck driving safety tips
Safety is a team effort. To create the safest environment for truck drivers, it’ll be on the drivers and the business owners to do their part. The truck safety tips below start with tips for drivers and finish with tips for owners.
- Perform a pre- and post-trip inspection
- Always wear your seat belt
- Obey the posted speed limit
- Practice defensive driving techniques
- Watch for blind spots
- Brake sooner
- Maintain a safe distance
- Take it easy on the corners
- Always signal
- Tie-down tools and equipment
- Avoid distractions
- Be prepared for changing weather and road conditions
- Be prepared for emergencies
- Keep trucks well-maintained
- Install GPS tracking
1. Perform a pre- and post-trip inspection
Truck drivers should walk around their vehicle before and after each trip to check for hazards, damage, or safety concerns (such as visibly low tire pressure). More in-depth checks should be done monthly to look for things like brake lights to ensure they’re in working order.
2. Always wear your seat belt
This safety tip should go without saying but truck drivers should always wear their safety belts while operating their vehicles. Not only do seat belts save lives, but they can also save your company from a hefty ticket.
3. Obey the posted speed limit
Another safety tip that shouldn’t have to be spelled out for people, but the reality is that speeding is responsible for 26% of all traffic fatalities. Not only is speeding dangerous but it can also create unnecessary expenses for the company if truck drivers keep getting speeding tickets.
4. Practice defensive driving techniques
Drive defensively is an approach to driving where drivers are on the lookout for potential hazards and changes in driving or road conditions. This means staying alert and aware of your surroundings. For example, scanning the rearview and side mirrors often and being aware of the location of other vehicles around you at all times. There are many defensive driving techniques and we’ve included more of them in detail below.
5. Watch for blind spots
Trucks have larger blind spots than smaller vehicles so drivers should take extra caution when it comes to changing lanes. Use the mirrors, shoulder check, and signal before every lane change—even if the truck is a newer model and has blind spot sensors.
6. Brake sooner
The traditional rules of braking don’t apply to pickup trucks. Because trucks are heavier than smaller vehicles, trucks can’t stop on a dime. Their brakes have to work overtime to slow the vehicle down or come to a complete stop so truck drivers will need to brake sooner in anticipation to ensure the vehicle can come to a stop in time.
7. Maintain a safe distance
Things happen quickly on the road and if you’re too close to the other drivers around you, collisions are more likely to occur. Due to the weight of pickup trucks, it’s even more important to leave adequate room between you and other vehicles on the road to ensure you have enough time to stop or maneuver around a hazard. At a minimum, you should always leave three seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you and when weather conditions are bad, triple that number to nine seconds or more.
8. Take it easy on the corners
Trucks have a higher center of gravity and are prone to rolling easier than cars. When corning, be sure to slow down ahead of the curve to ensure your truck doesn’t roll.
9. Always signal
Signaling is incredibly important when driving on the road. It lets other drivers know in which direction you intend to go so they can drive accordingly. This helps prevent accidents and can save you money as failing to signal is a ticketable offense. (This is one more reason to check if signal lights are working during monthly maintenance checks.)
10. Tie-down tools and equipment
When carrying anything in the bed of your pickup truck, whether it be landscaping supplies, furniture, or something as small as a broom, you need to ensure these items are fully tied down and secured. Loose or insecure items in the flat of a pickup truck are prone to fall out and cause damage to vehicles and drivers behind you. Not to mention put you as the driver at harm if you have to pull over to retrieve something you’ve lost. Consider adding a shell over the bed or hauling items with a trailer if this is an option for your business.
11. Avoid distractions
Distracted driving claimed the lives of over 3,100 people in the United States in 2020. Truck drivers should avoid operating a cell phone, eating, drinking, or driving without enough rest. Pro tip: Keep your cell phone in the glove compartment so it’s not a distraction but is within arm’s reach in case of an emergency.
Truck safety tips for business owners
12. Be prepared for changing weather and road conditions
Being prepared means knowing how to adjust your driving to the road conditions. For example, turning on your daytime running lights in heavy rain during the day, not using cruise control (especially when towing), and easing off the gas to slow down instead of slamming on the brakes in icy conditions.
Check out our complete list of winter driving tips for commercial vehicles. >>
13. Be prepared for emergencies
If an emergency happens when you’re on the road, you’re going to want to have the right gear to respond and keep you safe. Examples of how to be prepared for emergencies include keeping a first aid kit in the truck, getting a roadside assistance membership, and putting together an emergency kit that includes water, food, warm clothes, an extra phone charger, and so on.
14. Keep trucks well-maintained
Taking the time to check on the vehicle’s health and schedule preventive maintenance will help you avoid unexpected and costly vehicle repairs. You can rely on your truck drivers to do regular checks (such as checking fluids and tire pressure), but this often leaves stones unturned, and getting your fleet vehicles into a shop for regular inspections can be challenging to coordinate. Another option is to use a fleet vehicle tracking system that also has vehicle health capabilities to keep track of maintenance schedules and automatically send you alerts when it’s time for a vehicle checkup.
Safety and saving money are the name of the game with Force’s fleet maintenance and health software. It monitors battery health, detects minor and critical tire issues, notifies you of factory recalls, and more.
15. Install GPS tracking
GPS tracking systems for fleet safety collect valuable data about driver behavior such as speeding, harsh cornering, hard acceleration, and more. This information lets you better manage your drivers as it can assist with driver safety training, coaching, reprimanding, and re-training. Without driver behavior data, you’re putting blind faith into your drivers which doesn’t guarantee the safety of the driver, your trucks, or other drivers on the road.
What’s the hardest thing about truck driving?
One of the hardest things about driving a truck is spacial awareness. Due to the elevated seating position, it’s difficult to see the road in front of you, and the length of the truck makes it difficult to have visibility beside and behind you, which makes parking (specifically backing up) one of the most difficult maneuvers when driving a pickup truck.
How can I be a better truck driver?
Practice makes perfect! The best way to become a better truck driver is to practice. Be patient with yourself, go slow, and stay alert and aware of your surroundings and maneuvering (e.g. cornering slowly and leaving plenty of room when making 90-degree turns).
What is the best safety rule when driving?
The thing about driving is that it requires you to follow multiple rules while behind the wheel, so “the best” safety rule doesn’t really exist. When driving, you should always be following the safety rules of the road including wearing your seatbelt, obeying the speed limit, paying attention, and avoiding distractions.
How can we improve driving safety?
From a business standpoint, you can improve the driving safety within your company by properly training your operators, implementing various checks and processes, and using special software to ensure the rules of the road and your company’s safety program are being followed by your drive staff.
Safety first for your pickup truck fleet
Whether you’re running a landscaping, cleaning, carpentry, plumbing, transport, or electrical company, you’re going to want to take the necessary steps to increase driver and vehicle safety on the roads.