Posted on May 08, 2019
Every owner operator knows tailgating is a bad idea and can increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and fatalities. However, many truck drivers fail to allow themselves the appropriate following distance based on their vehicle, road conditions and weather conditions. Check out the five following facts about safe following distances that truck drivers should familiarize themselves with to improve trucking safety.
- Avoiding tailgating isn’t the same thing as a safe driving distance. The general rule of thumb is that for every 10 mph the commercial vehicle travels, the driver needs to add their truck’s length in following distance. For example, truck drivers traveling 50 mph will need to leave five of their trucks’ lengths between them and the vehicle in front of them. However, factors such as the tire quality, breaks and terrain can affect this ratio.
- Outside factors affect safe driving distance. As mentioned above, other elements influence safe stopping distance. Truck driver speed, the weather, vehicle condition, construction, traffic and road obstacles all influence how much space drivers need for a safe stop. Adverse weather, aging equipment, and increased congestion all warrant a greater following distance.
- Hill speed can cause accidental tailgating. Some drivers try to max their speed while going downhill to reduce the speed loss they’ll experience going uphill. However, this can lead to surprises when the driver discovers a passenger vehicle much closer than anticipated when they crest a hill. This excess speed can force drivers into an unwanted tailgating situation.
- It’s harder to maintain a safe following distance than many drivers realize. It’s fairly easy to sustain safe following distances on open roads. However, in metropolitan areas or well-traveled highways, things get trickier. Drivers should pick a lane and stick with it to allow passenger vehicles to maneuver around the commercial vehicle. Yet this is often insufficient in many busy areas, requiring truck drivers to maintain slower than normal speeds to create the necessary distance for maximum safety.
- Insufficient following distance can lead to jackknifing. Sudden braking can lead to a jackknife scenario where the weight of the trailer adversely impacts the tractor. Jackknifing is one of the most dangerous situations for truck drivers.
Owner operators must maintain constant vigilance to ensure safe following distances. Passenger vehicles are often unaware how much space trucks need to operate safely on the road. Allowing these drivers to pass without impacting following distance is a challenge that truck drivers need to overcome to ensure the safety of themselves and their vehicles. Learn more about reducing risk and improving owner operator truck safety, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on August 11, 2014
You are finally off the traffic-congested roadway and safely parked at a truck stop. But you may not be as safe as you think. A large percentage of truck-trailer accidents occur at truck stops which should be the safest place to park. Drivers can never let their guard down when behind the wheel. Trucking accidents are expensive to both the employer and to the driver. Below are a few tips to help reduce a trucking accident/incident at a truck stop:
- Pre-plan your route so you know you will be stopping at a location with plenty of room and that is well lit. Choose your stops, don’t let them choose you.
- Plan to take care of everything you need at a truck stop when you are there the first time. Stopping to fuel, refill your coffee, and eat is better than stopping five times.
- Never underestimate the usefulness of a rest area. Not only do rest areas offer easy access, but they are set up to allow trucks to pull through a parking spot versus the higher risk of backing into a spot. Statistics don’t lie….more accidents happen in truck stops than rest areas.
- Avoid parking on the end of a row. Not only is there traffic crossing next to you but most people park on the end because they are tired and after a long day the end is the closest spot. Avoiding the end of a parking lot helps you avoid drivers who are parking when they are tired. Removing yourself from high traffic areas can only help.
- Avoid a spot that will force you to back out when you leave. Choose a spot you can either pull through (the best option) or back into (second best option).
- Avoiding parking in a location where the trucks across from you will be required to back out of their spots. Being behind a vehicle that will be blindly backing toward you is a recipe for disaster.
- If the truck next to you looks close, is over the line, or parked odd (for example the cab is angled to the trailer for some reason) then move on to a new spot. If you have to take that spot don’t be afraid to write down the name and DOT number on the truck. You may be glad you did when you wake up in the morning.
- Park with your tractor and trailer straight. It reduces the area others have to hit while backing.
- Park where there is space around you. The back of the lot will usually have more room than the front so let other drivers take the risk of all that traffic coming and going. No need to be a super Trucker when a safe and easy place is available. Think safe, not convenience.
- Use your four-ways when pulling through the lot and backing up. People in truck stops, or even other parking lots, are usually tired or distracted. Four-ways activate peripheral vision and increase the chance of someone seeing you. And if required use your horn gently when needed to tell someone “Hey, I’m here”.