Effective Summer Truck Driving Tips

Essential advice for safe truck driving, during hot Aussie summer days

An Australian summer can be an absolute scorcher and any seasoned Aussie driver will tell you that the summer months can be dangerous due to the heat and limited visibility.

At Chris Shilling Transport Training, we understand the dangers and risks of driving during summer. That’s why we’re sharing our top safe-driving tips from no less than our team of driving experts to help truck drivers avoid all those heat stress. Here are 10 important tips to keep in mind for truck drivers and those who are just about to enter the profession (click on each one to find out more):

  • Pre-trip inspection
  • Timing
  • Patience
  • Wear sunnies and light-coloured clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • Hydration
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Use caution in work zones
  • Frequent brake checks
  • Check tyre inflation.

1. Pre-trip inspection

Mechanical issues are likely to increase as time goes on, especially when temperatures rise. Before starting a journey, complete a pre-trip rig inspection. The truck driver or a trusted mechanic must check for loose objects that could fly around and cause injury to people or damage to other vehicles. Fuel or oil leaks should be checked so they can be repaired prior to driving.

Truck Problems that need servicing

Below are some signs that indicate the truck needs servicing:

  • Cabin temperature is too high for comfort.
  • Unusual noise from the engine or wheels.
  • Sudden loss of power.
  • Check engine light illuminates unexpectedly.
  • The sudden tendency for the truck to move left or right.
  • Tyre pressure is low.

2. Journey timing

To avoid potentially serious damage to health and the risk of accidents, truck drivers should avoid driving in extreme heat. If possible, it is best not to drive between 10am and 4pm (when the sun is at its hottest).

Planning a time to leave can also help ensure traffic will not be terrible, which will help keep a driver’s cool when stuck in a jam. In addition, truck drivers tend to stay longer at a location if they do not know when they will be leaving. So, planning a departure time allows one to pack up earlier and get on the road when it’s still (relatively) cool.

3. Patience

The summer months can be quite busy, particularly driving through big cities where traffic is moving slowly, and even more so during school traffic periods. If under a tight schedule, truck drivers should allow time for delays and should be patient at all times on the road.

Truck drivers may be used to the heat, but anyone stuck in slow-moving traffic or waiting at roadworks will find summer days particularly trying, so it’s crucial to keep one’s cool and remember to drive safely regardless of the conditions.

4. Wear Sunnies and light-coloured clothing

Driving for hours in the sun can be dangerous to the human body, so Chris Shilling Transport Training recommends protecting the eyes and skin from harmful UV rays. Sunglasses are excellent at reducing glare on the road by up to 30%, making driving more comfortable. For optimum protection, select polarised sunnies with UV400 protection.

Sunglasses should be clean and appropriate for the weather. Packing an extra set is a lifesaver in case they get steamed up or broken during the trip. Wearing light-coloured long sleeves and pants will also be beneficial as dark colours absorb the sun’s rays and make one feel even hotter. Putting the sun visor down to reduce glare on the windscreen is particularly helpful, too.

5. Sunscreen

Sunscreen with at least an SPF30 should be applied in generous amounts to all exposed parts of the body, including the face, neck, and ears, to block out harmful UV rays.

A truck driver may not be sitting under a beach umbrella, but those UV rays will still damage the skin especially when outdoors long enough. Even reflective surfaces like road signs can cause UV damage. Plus, the windshield is basically one big reflector.

6. Hydration

Battling the summer heat by making sure one drinks plenty of water to compensate for fluid loss due to perspiration is vital. Warm weather makes the body lose more fluid, so staying well-hydrated is even harder when it’s hot outside. Hydration also prevents the risk of heatstroke and severe sunburn. Furthermore, concentration levels are closely linked to hydration levels, so, the more hydrated the driver, the more able they are to concentrate

7. Take frequent breaks

Driving for hours on end in direct sunlight can be really tough, so taking frequent breaks in a shaded area is no crime.

It helps to take a break every two hours or so. We know it’s tempting to go for longer, within the limits of your taco, but just getting out into fresh air can help keep one’s cool while giving those tired muscles a break after hours behind the wheel. Additionally, undertaking specific Fatigue Management training from Chris Shilling Transport Training can help immensely.

Having a drink of water, a snack, and quick relaxation before heading back on the road will make one feel refreshed and hydrated. Truck drivers should also keep an eye if they feel frequently hungry or thirsty because such could be a sign that they’re dehydrated.

8. Use caution in work zones

Summer is not the best time for roadwork, either – especially when it comes to getting stuck behind slow-moving vehicles during hot days. Nonetheless, truck drivers should always obey signs that warn about reduced speeds and should exercise extra care around workers. They should slow down when necessary and avoid distractions like talking on the phone or texting at work zones.

Though road workers may be familiar with hot weather conditions from working outside all day, they are people who need their rest and can’t afford to have a truck barrelling past them at high speed.

9. Frequent brake checks

It’s easy to forget about checking the brakes on a hot day, but brake failure is the major cause of crashes in the sun. Brake fluid can boil as it absorbs heat from surrounding temperatures, which means there’s less fluid to push on the brakes.

Checking the brake lights every few hours to ensure they’re working correctly is a good practice to observe when on the road. If something wrong is noticeable on the truck, they should have it taken to a mechanic for an inspection right away before driving again.

10. Check tyre inflation

Tyres that are too low or under-inflated increase the likelihood of a blown tyre and wheel, which can lead to more serious vehicle damage and accidents when driving at highway speeds. Usually, a truck bumping around on rough terrain is an indicator of possible under-inflation, so proper air pressure should be applied before letting it run again.

Proper tyre inflation will increase fuel economy, increase road safety, improve journey times and help maintain an even load.

Learn more tips from the truck driver training experts at Chris Shilling Transport Training.

Learn more tips from the truck driver training experts at Chris Shilling Transport Training.

Driving a heavy vehicle is challenging. Adding the scorching summer sun to the equation makes it even more dangerous. Fortunately, Chris Shilling Transport Training Services has courses like Fatigue Management which aims to train truck drivers on how to mitigate various factors that cause driving fatigue and ensure safe driving. Call us on 0434 366 758 or email chris@cstt.com.au for enquiries about our services.