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Semi-Truck Drivers: How to Stay Safe & Alert

Semi-truck drivers have a big responsibility when they are on the road. They are driving a very large, heavy vehicle. A truck accident could be very dangerous. Truck drivers need to remember these safe driving tips.

Semi-Truck Drivers: Ways to Stay Safe

Wear a Seat Belt

Airbags are not enough to help you in an accident, even in a vehicle the size of a semi-truck. Semi-truck drivers need to make sure to wear their seat belt so it will keep them safe while driving. This could prevent them from flying out of the vehicle if an accident were to happen. It could also reduce the risk of a more serious injury.

Don’t Drive Distracted

There is a lot of new technology in truck cabs nowadays. This could lead to distracted driving. GPS, while very helpful, can take the driver’s eye off the road and cause accidents. Cell phones can lead to drivers trying to do more while they are driving, which is also causing more accidents. 

Other activities that could cause semi-truck drivers to be distracted while driving are eating, looking for items in the cab, talking to passengers if you have any, and the list goes on. It is important to keep the distractions away while driving. Only take a look at them while at a rest stop, travel center, or at the destination.

Remember the Size of the Semi

Sometimes, it may be hard for semi-truck drivers to remember that they are pulling a lot of weight behind the truck cab. It takes a lot of force to get the semi-truck going, and a lot of force to get it to stop. Therefore, in the case of braking, it is necessary to keep a good amount of distance between a truck and the car ahead. A truck traveling at 55 mph will take 390 feet to come to a complete stop.

Turning can also be a challenge while driving a semi-truck. Drivers should keep in mind that they need to take wide turns. This will help prevent them from getting stuck trying to take tight corners.

Avoid Fatigue

Semi-truck drivers have long days and long weeks. In order to practice safe driving, it is necessary to make sure to take plenty of breaks and get rest. This is especially important when a driver is feeling tired. Driving while tired can be very dangerous. Other tips to reduce fatigue include eating healthy, doing exercises during breaks, and getting a good nights sleep.

Semi-truck Accidents: Common Causes

If you are going on a long road trip, it is not uncommon to come across semi-truck accidents. These vehicles are very large and heavy. Because of this, they can be dangerous for their drivers as well as other people on the road. While many things can happen on the road, there are a few common causes of truck accidents.

Semi-truck Accidents: What Can Cause Them?

Driver Fatigue

One of the most common causes of semi-truck accidents is driver fatigue. It is not uncommon for truck drivers to have to drive 1000s of miles in a few days. Many truck drivers are paid based on the number of miles they drive. Due to that, it is lucrative for truck drivers to drive further distances in a smaller time period. The more miles they cram in, the more money they can make. 

There are rules that regulate the number of hours that a driver can drive per day. Additionally, there are rules for how often and how long they must take breaks. It is important for these drivers to take breaks and be well-rested.

Driver Distractions

Additionally, it is easy for a cell phone, GPS, food, and many other things to distract drivers. Distractions are a cause semi-truck accidents. Since their trips can be long, truck drivers can get distracted. Therefore, truck drivers should try and avoid as many distractions as possible. For example, drivers should avoid using their cell phones or messing with their GPS while driving. Not paying attention to the road could end up costing someone their life.

Driver Inexperience

Another common reason for a semi-truck accidents is driver inexperience or inadequate training. In some cases, new drivers can be on the road immediately after finishing their trucking courses. This is because inexperienced drivers are going to provide cheaper labor than experienced ones. Unfortunately, this could lead to these drivers being unfamiliar with their assigned truck. If this is the case, errors are more likely to happen. More training could lead to fewer accidents.

A driver may not know how to properly control their truck if they are not used driving a very large, heavy vehicle. This could include speeding, or taking turns or curves too sharply. Since trucks are very heavy, they will also brake much differently than a regular car will. It may take a new truck driver some time to improve his or her driving skills.

Loading Issues 

Some semi-truck accidents can actually come from poorly loaded cargo. Sometimes, incorrectly loaded cargo can lead to an improperly weighted truck. This could cause the truck to be difficult to maneuver. It could also lead a truck to jack-knife, potentially causing serious injuries.

There are many factors that could lead to semi-truck accidents. However, proper training, correct loading, fewer distractions and rested drivers could all help to reduce the number of trucking accidents.

Truck Oil Changes: What You Should Know

As a tractor trailer driver, it’s important to know about how to properly take care of your truck. Knowing how to manage truck oil changes, along with other basic maintenance, is a large part of that. While you will likely learn the basics from other truckers, instructors, or guide books. However, we’re going to provide you with one more avenue of understanding…

Truck Oil Changes: Taking Proper Steps

Engine design

The engine of your truck plays a large role in your truck oil changes. The design, age, and conditions all play a part on your oil’s life. Additionally, things like engine contaminants can also play a role in reducing your oil capabilities. You engine’s fuel efficiency helps determine the overall life of your oil. A more modern, fuel efficient engine tends to have better oil life than older, less efficient ones. However, contaminants like water, dirt, and soot can reduce this efficiency.

How the truck is used

It’s also important to consider how the truck is driven. Much like with normal cars, how hard a driver pushes their truck can shorten their oil life. You also have to consider what conditions you drive your truck in as well. Harsh weather or climates can have a negative impact on your oil lifespan. For example, say you usually drive your truck in hot and dusty area. The higher temperatures can cause your engine to work harder and reduce your oil’s efficiency. Also, there’s an increased risk of contaminants like dirt getting into your engine as well. All of this can lead to the need for truck oil changes.

Oil properties

You also have to consider the type of oil you use in your truck. Trucks will generally use heavy-duty oil, unlike normal passenger cars. Different oil types will have also different properties which can impact their lifespan. Generally, the most common oil types used for truck oil changes are synthetic versus “standard” blends. Synthetic oils tend to last longer and perform better compared to their “standard” counterparts. However, this comes with a higher cost. These oils are also not impervious to contaminants. A higher-quality oil can degrade faster than “standard” oil if it is heavily contaminated.

Truck oil changes are a key part of keeping in properly running. That’s why it’s important to know the factors that can impact your oil’s overall effectiveness. After all, it’s always better to be proactive when it comes to truck maintenance.

Proper GPS Usage: Truck Driver Safety

Saying that GPS has made driving easier is a huge understatement. With GPS apps on phones, truck drivers can go on longer trips faster and more accurately. However, many drivers are unaware of proper GPS usage. Knowing the right way to use GPS can help you get the most out of this great driving aid…

Proper GPS Usage: Traveling Safely​

Keep it at eye-level

GPS is more convenient than ever these days with GPS apps on smartphones. However, these apps come with a risk of drivers constantly glancing at their phones. This takes their eyes off the road, and could lead to potential accidents. That’s why it’s important to keep your GPS at eye-level while driving. Using a phone mount can let you keep your phone GPS up and keep your eyes on the road. Proper GPS usage means you make sure you use it responsibly.

Understand how they operate

It’s always a good idea to know how your GPS works before you head out on the road. Many are designed to be user-friendly, but proper GPS usage means knowing all the features they have to offer. This is especially important in making them safer to use as well. A feature that many GPS apps and devices have is voice navigation. Having your device read out where you need to go can help you stay more focused on the road. Additionally, make sure that it recognizes the address you put in as the correct one before you begin driving!

Use common sense

The GPS is a great tool, but it isn’t perfect. Like all technology, it might have moments where it doesn’t work like it should. In these situations, it’s important to rely to your senses. Remember to obey the traffic signs around you. Many people turn the wrong way onto one-way streets just because their GPS said so! If you think you’re going the wrong way, or your GPS is losing signal, it’s good to stop at somewhere like a gas station and ask for more reliable directions. GPS is a handy tool, but like all tools, you have to use it properly. Proper GPS usage means knowing how to use your device safely and accurately. It also means knowing what to do when things go wrong.

Trailer Talk: Trucker Lingo and Phrases

Growing up, nearly every single on of us has a memory of passing a tractor trailer on the roadway and motioning for them to honk their horn. It was a game for long car rides, or a challenge on the school bus. No matter where you experienced this, it is a visceral image we can almost all recall. However, while we can all recall the ‘honking’ game bit of trailer talk, you might not realize that there are plenty of other phrases that truckers themselves might use to communicate a number of different things. From police on the roadway, to emergencies, and different destinations— there seems to be a common phrase for everything.

Trailer Talk: Commonly Used Phrases

Popular Terms

First of all, when it comes to trailer talk, these are the most common terms:

  • 10-4: Usually used to signify acknowledgment, but can also be used in agreement
  • 10-6: Basically saying, “I’m busy, please hold”
  • 10-7: The trailer talk equivalent of an AIM away message. “I’m done for the night, signing off!”
  • 10-8: En-route. Usually used when saying you’re on the way to a location.
  • 10-9: Repeat your last message, I did not receive it. 
  • 10-20: 20 denotes a location. In fact, it can be used to inform others of your location or ask others for their “20”.
  • 10-33: This term is used to clear the channel for emergency traffic.
  • 10-100: This means you’re taking a potty break!
  • Runnin’you across: The weigh station is open and moving quickly

Law Enforcement

Second, in order to let other trucks know about nearby law enforcement, there is certain trailer talk to talk about just that. Then, they don’t need to guess what is ahead of them on the road!

  • Evel Knievel: a police officer on a motorcycle
  • Mama Bear: A female police officer
  • Papa Bear: A police officer with a CB radio
  • Baby Bear: A rookie police officer
  • Bear Trap: A speed trap
  • Bear bite: A speeding ticket
  • Fox in the hen house: An unmarked police vehicle
  • Full-grown bear: State trooper
  • Flying doughnut: A police helicopter

Destinations

​Finally, when it comes to trailer talk, some of it focuses merely on places you might be going. In fact, some slang is for locations of truck drivers or their destinations only, so they can communicate with other drivers.

  • Gateway: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Lost Wages: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Mardi Gras: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Bingotown: Binghamton, New York
  • Beantown: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Motor City: Detroit, Michigan
  • Stack of Bricks: a house or home
  • Spud Town: Boise, Idaho
  • Windy City: Chicago, Illinois 

Essential Truck Features

It’s important to make sure that your truck is prepared before you head out on the road. While some specifics might vary from driver to driver, there are some essential truck features that you should make sure are taken care of. These are the kind of things that you wouldn’t want to leave without…

Essential Truck Features: Top Priorities

Good tires

A good set of tires are some of the most essential truck features to have in good shape. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is certainly true for truck tires. You shouldn’t settle for cheaper tires to save only a few bucks.

Instead, investing in good quality tires will keep you safe and avoid frequent replacements. Stick to the well-trusted brands and follow their recommendations for proper use. Check them frequently to make sure they are still in good shape. Furthermore, consider all-weather or snow tires if you’re driving in icy or snowy places. 

The right lights

Proper lighting is one of those essential truck features that is useful at night and during the day. Break lights, headlights, running lights. and turn signals all should be in working order before you set out. Make sure to check that they are as bright as they should be so other drivers can see them.

Your lights have multiple purposes when on the road. Lights allow you to see the road and they let other drivers see you as well. They also indicate your intentions to other drivers. This is why it’s important to make sure they are working properly at all times. 

Clear mirrors

Mirrors are considered to be essential truck features, but they often get overlooked. Good mirrors let you see around your truck and avoid accidents. They can also help you with parking and other maneuvers.

However, mirrors may require a bit more maintenance than other features. You’ll have to make sure to clean them off if they get too much dirt and grime buildup. You’ll also have to make sure they’re in the right position before driving. The benefits that good mirrors give you makes this maintenance well worth it.

Taking care of the truck essentials will make your trips much more safer. Give these components a check the next time you’re getting ready to head out to make your driving experience all the more enjoyable.