This is the Top 12 Secret Checklist for how I drive a semi truck safely week after week while away from home. These 12 key safety tips will greatly change a moment from being a nightmare or being in an uncontrollable environment to hazards that were avoided.
Within this article, I am going to share with you my top 12 tips for being a safe truck driver while driving. What it takes, in all aspects of trucking. With these secret tips, you will be able to understand how I have driven a semi truck for over 19 years and not been the cause of a single accident.
You will understand how I have avoided countless accidents, and how I have been collided into by other vehicles with minimal damage to the semi truck and trailer.
If you are not a truck driver, and you are reading this. These are the secret keys of safety that save people’s lives in the concrete jungle of American Highways and Roadways.
12. How Do Truckers Avoid Hazards While Driving?
Know what is going on everywhere around you. This includes front, sides, behind you, and even up ahead of you where you will be in a few minutes or more from right now.
There is even equipment a trucker could use to gain an insight into any hazards miles ahead that may not be able to be seen from the current location.
I’ll go into more detail on all of this below. This is going to be explained from a truck driver’s point of view. After all, this entire site is about semitruckdriver dot com. Due to this, let’s roll onto the next aspect.
11. How Truckers Remain Safe Within Their Traveling Area?
It helps that when I sit inside of a semi truck that I am elevated higher than most vehicles. I can see over most automobiles and gain an understanding of what is ahead of them.
Another idea to consider is that I check my mirrors frequently, my eyes are constantly moving.
- I look forward out the windshield for maybe a brief moment.
- I look out the driver side window into the drive side mirrors for a shorter moment.
- I look back out the windshield.
- I look out the passenger side window through the passenger side mirror for a short moment like the above driver mirror.
- I look back out the windshield.
- I glance down at the driver side nose mirror.
- I look back out the windshield.
- I glance down at the passenger side nose mirror.
- I look back out the windshield.
There are 2 mirrors located one over the other on both doors. I will check from top to bottom the first time. Then the next rotation I will check from the bottom to the top.
These 2 cycles of processing what is going on around me in my brain, repeat throughout my entire day of truck driving. It is this main repeated cycle of knowing what is around me when, where and how that has kept me safe and other’s safe.
I’m going to tell you a little story that proves this:
If it would not have been for this, the 1 time I glanced down for a millisecond to grab my lighter from its location, a man driving a white pickup truck with his wife in the passenger seat. Would not be with us today. Nor would be a man driving a red pickup truck, both sets of parties from the exact same moment in time.
In the mists of me reaching for my lighter in that millisecond of a moment, this white pickup truck cut off another red pickup truck pulling a rented trailer. Upon cutting off the red pickup truck, the driver side of the bed of the white pickup collided with the front passenger fender of the red pickup truck.
The white pickup was trying to pass the red pickup before the red pickup could get close enough to me, to begin passing me. During this brief glance of looking at my lighter, all of this took place.
While I was reaching for my lighter, I maintained my routine of processing my surroundings. I had no choice but to drive on the shoulder because at this point the white and red pickup truck were both out of control.
The white pickup truck being in my right lane. It’s passenger mirror at this point hovering under the underside of my trailer. If I would not have moved to the shoulder and slowed down to allow the white pickup truck to pass my semi-truck.
I firmly believe the white pickup truck would have been embedded into my driver side fuel tank and would have made contact with the back of the engine underneath where I sit in the driver’s seat.
After avoiding the white pickup truck, the red pickup truck which was still attempting to regain control of its vehicle was getting closer and closer to my trailer. At this point because of how slow I was traveling on the shoulder, it appeared the red pickup truck was headed for my landing gear.
Seeing the white pickup truck, a ways down the road, I sped up as fast as I could. Not to catch the white pickup truck. But to move the trailer out of the way of the red pickup truck who was out of control because the front steer axle I later found out was broken in the process of things.
Since I sped up, the red pickup was not headed for the backside of my landing gear, it was not headed for colliding with the underside of the trailer. For a brief moment, I thought for sure I was going to make enough space so that I could get out of the way of the out of control red pickup truck.
Though, 29,000 pounds in the trailer, the red pickup truck did collide into the side of the tire on the driver side rear axle. My rim suffered major dents, though that was the only damage I received. The red pickup truck was totaled, but the driver was alive with a sore elbow.
The white pickup truck, a married couple of over 40 years, was also alive and had no injuries. Just some dents and scratches where the white pickup truck and the red pickup truck made contact.
Better to collide into the sidewall of a tire than turn a pickup truck into a convertible? Maybe, but in my opinion, there is never a time when any accident, is a good accident. When a semi-truck and trailer is struck on the underside of the trailer, more times than not.
The vehicle that struck the underside of the trailer is also greeted with the trailer tandems (tires and axles) embedded into if not over or through the vehicle. Do to stopping distances. Being collided into from the underside of the trailer could also cause the load to shift and the trailer to flop over onto its side.
Anything under the trailer as it lands onto its side is also trapped by the weight of the cargo within the trailer and the weight of the trailer. Being trapped would be the absolute best-case scenario that usually never occurs. What does occur, is that people normally don’t make it out alive.
Are there risks involved? Of course, just driving a semi truck is a risk within itself.
10. How Far Ahead Do Truck Drivers Look When Driving?
Most people in general when driving usually only see to the rear of the vehicle ahead of them self. This point of attention is this way normally because nobody taught them anything different.
I hope in this portion of this article, I help you change that method of thinking while you drive. When you’re driving, knowing what is ahead of the vehicle ahead of yourself is also important. Even knowing ahead of as many vehicles ahead of you as possible is the preferred idea, that is worthy of your attention.
Now the question of how do we accomplish this may arise. Though it is very simple. In a semi-truck, this is much easier because of the height from the ground the driver sits. Though when you’re in a car or van or even a pickup truck or SUV it’s still possible to obtain this information.
These things may appear to be difficult, though are pretty easy. The closer you are to something in front of you, the harder it is to see around it.
Please allow me to repeat that. “The closer you are to the vehicle in front of you, the harder it is, to see around them.”
While driving there are opportunities available to gain insight as to what may be ahead. I’m not sure how far ahead most truckers are looking. Though for me, the truck driver that is writing this article. I see as far ahead as I possibly can, and everything from that point back to myself.
If I was to only pay attention to what is in the distance ahead then I could end up with an issue directly in front of me. Maybe even somewhere in the middle of all of that, I may have not avoided because I was only focused on the distance far ahead.
By allowing my eyes to scan as far away and then back I gather all the information that I need to know for all possible outcomes. Now there is a little bit more to this as well.
Not only do I see what is way ahead of me and back directly in front of me. I’m also seeing off to the right and left and in various other areas as well all around me at a distance scanned to near me.
I’ll give two examples:
A) With the story from above. I see the red pickup from afar. I see there was a line of vehicles around that vehicle and behind that vehicle. I see ahead of me no traffic for miles. I see westbound had a green John Deere oversized.
I see the shoulder was flat and little ways ahead of me the edge of the shoulder dropped off into a ditch of sorts for a good length of distance.
I knew all of this because I have trained myself over and over during the past 19 years. My eyes and brain acknowledge everything when I’m driving. This allows me to anticipate dangerous situations, and avoid them. This is what 19 years of experience as a truck driver provides the trucker.
B) This second example is good practice to do, to retrain how someone sees things and acknowledge possible issues. To be prepared for any issues that you could anticipate occurring.
When traveling through a town with stop lights. Try to acknowledge aloud, my light is turning yellow. About half of a block up from me there are pedestrians running towards the corner on my side of the road at my stop light.
There are three cars trying to make a right turn from the crossing traffic lanes, the stop light ahead is now green, it has no traffic. My stoplight is red. The “No Walking Sign” just turned to countdown from 10. The car next to me cut off the vehicle behind it prior to catching the same red light I did. I hope the pedestrians make it across the crosswalk before my light changes to green.
The more information that is acknowledged, the easier it is to be prepared for any dangerous outcome. When my light turned green, do you know what I did?
I waited an extra couple of seconds.
Now, this may sound strange to most. The light turned green and nobody moved. I was the only individual not on my cell phone. I know this because I can see inside of cars and I can see the glow of light from the screen of cell phones. Just as police can.
If I would have started to drive when my red light turned green. It would have been a signal to the other people that were also waiting for the light to turn green, to begin driving.
Had this occurred, who knows if any of the pedestrians in the crosswalk would have been hit by a car or not. What I do know, is that because I waited just 2 extra seconds. I did not acknowledge the light turned green to anyone, and no one was hit by a car. Coincidence, it’s very possible.
This is why we gather as much information as to what is going on around us at all times and why this information comes from various distances.
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