Truck driving can be dangerous. During 2018, over 25,000 deaths occurred due to truck accidents, with many more accidents that resulted in injuries. The good news is that the total number of accident deaths has decreased compared to earlier years. The bad news is that truck driver deaths have increased by 33 percent. That is scary to think about if you drive a truck.
That doesn’t mean you should give up your license! Knowing why there are so many truck accidents and deaths is the first step to working towards reducing your chances of experiencing an accident
Something Goes Wrong With the Cargo
One of the biggest factors in truck accidents involves the cargo that the truck is carrying. With over 15 million trucks on the road moving nearly a trillion dollars’ worth of retail goods within the United States alone, it should come as no surprise that items aren’t always packed properly.
There are a few things that can cause a cargo accident including:
- Improper loading can make it difficult to maneuver the truck.
- Unsafe stacking that can make the truck more susceptible to high winds.
- Overloading that can cause tires to burst, breaks to wear, and more.
It is important to follow regulations when loading cargo to ensure the safety of the truck while it’s on the road.
Distracted driving is a huge problem for drivers of all kinds. However, it is easy to understand why distractions are common for truckers. Spending hour after hour on the road can be boring and repetitive, which causes drivers to reach for their radio or cell phone to pass the time.
Drowsy driving is also a form of distracted driving, and it’s a huge problem for truck drivers. Many drivers spend 12 hours at a time on the road with just a few hours of sleep. That’s dangerous because driving tired is almost, or just as, dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
Don’t check your cell phone while you’re driving, and be realistic about when you feel tired. If you’re struggling to keep your eyes open and coffee isn’t helping, it’s time to pull over and catch a few z’s.
Poor Mental and Physical Health
Unfortunately, health is often a low priority for truck drivers. Truckers don't get a lot of exercise, since they’re stuck in a vehicle all day, and they are often sleep-deprived. The poor conditions and work environments contribute to a higher rate of cardiometabolic disease among truck drivers.
How drivers cope with their position can have a huge impact on their health too. For example, some truckers turn to drugs or alcohol, which is very dangerous behind the wheel.
It’s important to care for your mental and physical health while you’re on the road. Visit truck stops and do some stretching, make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep in every 24 hour period and make time to speak with other truckers and family members throughout the day to prevent loneliness.
Trucks are built to carry cargo, and most trucks can carry a lot of it. Unfortunately, they aren’t necessarily created for safety. Large trucks naturally have large blind spots, and those blind spots can cause accidents.
It’s important to be diligent about blind spots if you drive a truck, which means double and triple-checking blind spots before you merge into a different lane, speed up, or slow down. You can also consider equipping your truck with technology that will alert you when others are in your blind spots, and cameras that enable you to see what’s in your blind spots.
Poor Truck Maintenance
Truck maintenance matters too. It's important to make sure the truck is in top condition before it heads out on the road, but that takes time and money. When the cargo needs to be delivered by a certain date and time, it’s a lot easier to put off important maintenance, but it also increases your chances of experiencing an accident while you’re on the road.
A few tips for maintaining your truck include things like:
- Checking the air in the tires.
- Inspecting suspensions.
- Making sure everything is lubed correctly.
- Inspecting your brakes regularly.
- Making sure all lights are operable.
- Checking security features, like tiedown straps and ratchets.
With tens of thousands of truck driver deaths on the road, getting behind the wheel can be scary. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to stay safe during long hauls on the road.