Trucking is an indispensable service, accounting for 56.9% of Mexico's freight movement in 2020, and 72.9% in the United States in 2019. This makes truck drivers' work fundamental for the supply chain, the market, the economy, and even the competitiveness of a country. All things considered, being a truck driver is an extremely demanding job, in addition to presenting great personal risks. 

There are many implications for the safe delivery of a shipment, being one of the most important ones pertaining to driver safety. We are not only talking about unsafe road conditions, but also about the different factors that truck drivers must take into account in order to stay safe while driving.

Their personal safety can also have a direct impact on other drivers on the road. Thus, by improving the safety of truck drivers, you are not only ensuring their wellbeing, but also potentially reducing accident-related costs and compensations.

Check out 10 tips to keep safe on the road:

Before the load

  • Truck maintenance: Your vehicle is the key to a safe delivery. That's why you should periodically inspect and service it, not only for better performance, but also to ensure your safety. According to the FMCSA, maintenance problems are one of the main causes of trucking accidents. 
  • Plan your route: Getting familiar with the route will help you plan ahead and get prepared, especially by identifying road conditions and authorized resting points, in case of emergency stops.

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On the road/delivery 

  • Defensive driving: Train your operators on braking distance under the 7-second rule to avoid collisions. You can measure this distance by observing a set point on the road and counting the time that passes from the moment a car in front of you crosses that point until you reach that same point. This will help reduce the risk of collisions.
  • Blind spots: Make sure that you are aware of where they are located, from the rear of the trailer, the passenger and driver's doors, to the front bumper, and the nose of the truck. According to FMCSA, checking your mirrors every 8-10 seconds will help you have a better spatial perception of your unit.
  • Rest: Shipment routes can be extremely long, so resting at authorized points should be a priority to ensure your well-being. Also, make sure to take short breaks not only to rest, but also eat, sleep and/or take care of your truck.
  • Drop-off point: Check the drop-off area by foot to make sure that your truck will not be affected by uneven ground conditions. 
  • Parking: Whenever you park, take a minute to inspect your truck, check its condition, and provide mechanical support, if needed.

Weather

An aspect that cannot be controlled, but can be foreseen, is the weather. In any extreme circumstance, such as rain, snow, black ice, or fog, it is of utmost importance to reduce speed considerably to avoid losing control of the unit; as well as knowing when to stop when weather conditions are unfavorable. Also, consider carrying emergency supplies and a first aid kit at all times.

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Safety concerns

Especially in Mexico, this phenomenon has been on the rise, mainly due to more lax security measures, and a lack of effective coordination between the different levels of government, as stated by José Refugio Muñoz, executive vice-president of the National Chamber of Freight Transportation (CANACAR). According to data from the 2022 report on the Incidence of Crime in the Common Sectors, only 12% of robberies on truckers are non-violent. Therefore, it is key to take appropriate actions when facing these situations.

  • Security plan: It is necessary to have a contingency plan, which will depend on each carrier, to safeguard its operators. The most important thing is to train them on how to react in these scenarios. To do so, it is necessary to map out risk factors by identifying the areas, routes, products, and/or services that are most vulnerable or represent a greater safety risk. It should also include the necessary measures to prevent transportation incidents, in addition to implementing emergency drills.
  • Anti-jammer: The jammer is an electronic device used by criminals to block the reception and transmission of GPS and mobile networks. Securing a GPS anti-jammer can immediately detect these devices, activating the immobilization of the engine and cutting off the flow of electricity to the vehicle, making it harder to steal.

Here are 6 tips for truck drivers to prevent these incidents regardless of the time of year.

Although most factors are unpredictable, it is necessary to take proactive measures to keep truck drivers as safe as possible and ensure that cargo is delivered safely. Truck drivers are a fundamental part of our economy, keeping the world moving forward. By creating better working conditions and practices, carriers can also contribute to operator retention, which is becoming increasingly important in today's ecosystem.

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