At Fuel Express, our fleet fuel cards cater to fleets of all types, and we know that being a driver of a large tractor trailer (or 18-wheeler) is a different experience than being a driver of a car. That’s why we’re here to offer a few tips that can help you stay safe while you’re driving:
Monitor Your Speed
As a tractor trailer driver, you don’t want to clog up the lane on a highway by going too slow, but you also don’t want to travel too fast. Keep an eye on your speed and when in doubt, go a little slower than the speed limit. It takes tractor trailers longer to stop in an emergency, so you’ll want to travel at a slower speed to begin with in order to stop safely.
Take Turns Cautiously
Because tractor trailer trucks are top-heavy, they can easily lose their balance and tip over, causing major problems for you as a driver and for those around you. This is especially common during turns and curves, so it’s important to take these at a slower speed to maintain contact with the road. If you take a turn too fast, you run the possibility of losing contact and turning over.
Avoid Stacking Cargo
The higher you stack your cargo, the more likely you’ll be to overturn, so when you load up your trailer, try to spread the cargo out to cover as much surface area as possible.
Know What’s in Store
Before you take off on your route, check the weather for rain, snow, sleet, ice, fog, or hail. Also check traffic patterns and if there’s any construction going on where you’re supposed to travel. Planning your route is an important part of staying safe.
Watch Your Blind Spots
As a tractor trailer driver, one of the most difficult things you’ll have to deal with is your blind spots. Since these trucks are so large, it’s hard to see clearly on the sides in front of the cab, just behind the side mirrors, and directly behind the truck. Cars and motorcycles can easily get lost in these spots, so before you make any moves (like merging or switching lanes), be sure there’s no one in the way.
Don’t Overdo It
If you’re a driver who drives long hours for days at a time, don’t over-exert yourself. Driving when you’re tired or when you don’t feel well can reduce your reaction time and can put you and other drivers in danger. Don’t push yourself too hard; get rest when you need it and fuel up on healthy foods and water.