The life of a truck driver can be a perilous one. Even if a CMV operator does everything properly, and follows every mandated highway procedure, it can take just a few moments for a devastating accident to occur. The unique risks of operating commercial motor vehicles is one of the reasons the new FMCSA Clearinghouse rule, a rule that's intended to keep drivers with drug and alcohol violations off the road (at least temporarily), has been put into effect.
We all want to see the safety of our highways and roads improve, but making systematic changes, which often needs to start at the government level, can take time. For now, truckers must take matters into their own hands when it comes to staying safe out on the road.
Here are 4 safety tips for truck drivers on the highway.
Certain speed limits, yield signs, and stoplights can often leave drivers scratching their heads. Whether a driver feels the speed limit is too low, the yield sign is unnecessary or the stoplight is simply out of place, it's crucial to remember that the rules of each specific road have been implemented for a reason.
Even if a CMV driver has a flawless driving record and decades of experience, it only takes one treacherous roadway to cause an accident. The rules of each specific road, such as speed limits and signage, have almost always been carefully considered, implemented, and tested to help drivers avoid incidents. Whether a CMV driver agrees with the rules of the road or not, following those rules can be the difference between safe passage and catastrophe.
Most drivers have experienced first hand the chaos of driving on a snowy evening as the pavement begins to build that first layer of ice. But most drivers may not know that, according to the Concentra Resource Center, “Weather-related crashes were 21 percent of total crashes,” in 2019.
Always err on the side of caution when it comes to driving in difficult weather conditions. While this sounds like common sense, the startlingly high percentage of accidents that occur due to weather challenges tells another story. In addition to slowing down and taking methodical turns during the snowy months, drivers also should prepare for road congestion and pedestrians in warm weather months. Each season poses new challenges; it's up to drivers to be prepared for them.
A startling study from AAA Traffic Safety Foundation found that “ 37 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives.” That same study also told us that, from the years 2013 to 2017, there were a total of 4,111 fatalities that involved drowsy driving. This should immediately underline the fact that drowsy driving is a serious and sometimes fatal problem.
Truck stops and rest areas are there for a reason. And, when considering that interstate CMV drivers can be driving for up to 11 hours straight, taking an hour or two to sleep can quite literally be the difference between life and death. It's also essential that truckers double-check to ensure that any medication they may be taking doesn’t cause drowsiness.
Driving under the influence clocks in at number one on our list, due to the damage it has inflicted on highways, societies and families. Every 51 minutes in America, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash. That horrifying statistic means every 51 minutes, someone is losing a coworker, friend or loved one. The most frustrating part of these accidents is that they could have been avoided.
The FMCSA set out to address this problem by introducing the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, which will require CMV drivers and employers to report violations on a shared database. This database must be consulted with before hiring new employees and deeming a CMV driver fit for operation. The rule is intended to keep both CMV drivers and all other motorists safer on the country’s roads and highways. If you’re a CMV driver, driving under the influence can cost you not only your job, but also your life.
Everyone wants to keep CMV drivers safe on the roads, especially as CMV drivers continue to keep our country running during this ongoing pandemic. If all CMV drivers follow the tips in this blog, it will be a step towards improved highway safety.
*If you’re a CMV employer or driver, adhering to the new FMCSA drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule is not optional. Explore Clearinghouse Navigator for more information on the rule, like how to follow it, eLearning opportunities and more.*