Safety should be of utmost priority amongst drivers.
Spending hours or even days on the road is mentally taxing for drivers, regardless of the size of vehicle or truck. This often leads to drowsy driving, which can cause accidents. It’s therefore important to find the best strategies to stay safe and alert on the road. Here are some long-haul journey safety tips that can be useful and effective.
1. Prepare a detailed itinerary
Having the details of your travel is the best way to remove stress and avoid dangers while driving. It’s not enough to enter the destination in the GPS without knowing the distance and location of pit stops. Always check the time it takes to reach point B from Point A. Search for restrooms, diners, or recreation areas to avoid feeling lost. Always remember that having an itinerary doesn’t mean having to strictly stick to it.
2. Eat, rest, and be well-hydrated
People always make the mistake of staying up late to prepare things for a trip, but it’s incredibly vital to have sufficient rest before getting behind the wheel. Those who are driving must make sure to have at least 7 to 9 hours sleep. Drowsy driving is more dangerous in long-haul journeys, and even more so in case of heavy vehicles and trucks. This is why it’s pretty common to have a back-up driver when driving trucks on a long-haul journey.
Not sure if you need to pullover? Here are some signs that indicate you should stop and rest for a bit:
- It’s hard to focus.
- Your eyelids are getting heavy.
- It’s getting hard to keep your head up.
- You’re daydreaming while driving.
Then there’s the food factor. An expert truck driver shared that she feels more satisfied and alert by having a protein-heavy breakfast. Some even bring salads and fruits for the road trip. Bringing food in a cooler is advisable, especially for those who don’t want to eat inside restaurants during the pandemic.
It’s also very important to drink water. Although this will lead to more bathroom breaks, it’s better than getting dehydrated. Dehydration causes dizziness or headaches that may affect driving.
3. Stay away from drugs and alcohol
This is self-explanatory, but it’s still critical and one of the most important rules in driving safety. Being under the influence results in drowsiness and other symptoms that will put you and others at risk. Your life and financial stability are at stake.
4. Know all road signs
Being well-versed on road signage helps increase highway driving confidence and capability. Practice reading the signs and know what they mean. This begins when learning Safety Driving Lessons with a reputable company and it will make all the difference. There are three groups of road signs in Australia:
These control traffic and need to be followed. These are usually red and/or black in colour against a white background.
These signs alert drivers of possible dangers ahead. These are normally yellow with black diagrams. These may pertain to the presence of animals, people, or hidden changes in the road.
Information or guide signs
These signs provide vital information, such as state highway numbers and special road conditions. They are usually rectangular and have different sizes and colours.
5. Obey all speed limits
Many drivers think that slightly going over the speed limit is harmless, especially on country roads where traffic enforcers are often left wanting. They also tend to think that speeding helps shorten the time needed to complete the trip. However, speeding will always be dangerous.
The truck will take longer to slow down or completely stop at higher speeds and there will be less time to react correctly to a dangerous situation. So, make sure to keep track of the speed by doing the following:
- Frequently checking the speedometer
- Watching out for traffic signs
- Staying away from distractions whenever possible
6. Invest in a dash cam
A 2019 research showed dash cams increased in popularity in Australian roads. About 21% of drivers are now recording their trips. Majority of the participants say that their reason for doing so is for facilitating insurance claims and next to this is to help report illegal or reckless driving. Dashcams can also help them capture scenarios while their vehicle is parked.
In the trucking industry, dash cams can protect drivers from false claims. These also hasten insurance claims, increase accountability, improve driver behaviour and overall fleet safety.
7. Always practice defensive driving
Defensive driving encourages drivers to always look out for possible hazards and changes in road conditions and, as a result, decrease the risk of injuries and accidents. By looking out for dangerous situations, truck drivers can make informed decisions behind the wheel. Defensive driving is the key to safe journeys and is a large aspect of learning to drive an HGV. This is particularly useful for long haul journeys where drivers use the highway.
Some important defensive driving strategies are:
Looking out for blind spots
Blind spots are areas around the vehicle that the driver can’t see directly. Unfortunately, side and rear-view mirrors aren’t always effective in detecting blind spots. Drivers should look out the window and over their shoulders when changing lanes and leave enough room around other vehicles when merging.
Applying the 3-second rule
Allow three seconds to pass between the times you and the car in front of you reach a particular point. This helps prevent rear and forward collisions. Increase the time to 5 seconds under windy or rainy conditions.
Always using signals
Some drivers are so used to travelling in long stretches of roads or off-peak traffic times. As such, they have the tendency to change lanes or exit highways without signalling. However, not using signals increases the risk of collisions and remember, signalling when turning or changing lanes is required by law.
8. Make sure the vehicle is ready for long-haul journeys
Your vehicle must be well-maintained before going on a long trip. This includes battery checks, oil changes, and tire rotations, and always have a reliable and trusted mechanic check on the truck before the trip. It’s also helpful to have extra supplies of motor oil, windshield-washer fluid, snow brush, and blankets on standby in case of emergencies.
For safety driving lessons, consult with CS Transport Training Services
Any person operating or driving a heavy vehicle should know the minimum standards of safety and should practice them at all times. Fortunately, CS Transport Training provides courses like Fatigue Management to help truck drivers survive long interstate drives. Contact us at 0434 366 758 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our training and licensing services.