Securing your load is an incredibly important part of being a safe and responsible truck driver. There are so many risks involved when it comes to transporting a load that is not properly secured on or in your trailer. Commercial truck drivers can carry a wide variety of cargo in an assortment of trailer types. No matter what type of trailer it is one of the most important things you can do before you move the vehicle is to make your load is secure.
Imagine you are out on the road and suddenly you feel your load shift and something slip off. If this happens, there are so many problems that can follow. Someone could be traveling behind you and could cause serious damage to the person or vehicle. It could cause you to lose control of your vehicle, it will most likely cause damage to the cargo which means you aren’t delivering what you agreed to in the time you did. This is going to cause a financial penalty to the company you work for, you personally or both.
Before you hit the road, make sure your tie-downs have a combined rating equal to at least half of the loads weight. Make sure you know what your load weighs. You will need this information for a number of reasons. Depending on your load, tie-down straps are required to be in certain places, you can find out this exact information from the regional or federal laws. They vary from province to province and state to state so make sure you fully understand the laws where you are traveling.
If it is possible, double checking your load after you have traveled a certain distance is a good idea. Around 50 miles down the road, check that the vibrations or something unpredictable hasn’t shifted your load. Making sure your load’s weight is evenly distributed can also help if you do have an incident on the road. For example, if you loose control and veer off the road and your load is top heavy it could increase your chances of rolling the vehicle.
At the end of the day, there are a few key steps you can take to make sure you and your load are safe before you hit the road:
Check that your load is properly secured, then check again and then maybe one more time!
Understand the laws and rules around load securement in the region that you will be driving
Know the weight of the cargo you are carrying and work with your supplier and your employers to make sure you have properly secured your load
Just remember, not properly securing your load poses a safety risk for you and everyone else on the road. On top of that, it can be extremely financially damaging between broken cargo and the hefty fines that come along with not fastening your load correctly.
Driving truck as a career is difficult. It can be isolating and lonely when you are on the road for a long stretch. Friends and family are at home living their life and you are missing the big and small moments that are happening. How you deal with this is up to you. There are strategies to help ease the pain of missing your friends and family at home, especially during the holiday season.
When it comes to special days on the calendar while you are on the road, make a different plan. Change the things you can control. In most cases, you can’t control when you will be on the road but you can control what days you celebrate milestones and holidays. For example, if you are going to be home from December 21st – 24th but won’t be home for December 25th, plan for your family to celebrate Christmas Eve on December 23rd and Christmas day on December 24th. Depending on the age of the children in your family, they will adapt easily or won’t know the difference. The same strategy can be used for birthdays, anniversaries and any other holiday your family celebrates.
Technology is your friend on the road. It can be used to stay connected to family and friends at home. There are so many options these days. It can either be used to call specific people directly or used to stay connected to your friends and family through social media. Consider giving daily updates on your social media, take pictures/videos and you will likely get the social interaction you might be craving on the road.
Get creative while you are on the road. Find fun ways to stay connected with your family. Are there apps that you can use to play games together while you are not at home? Can you leave a couple books at home for your kids while you take the same ones on the road with you so that you can read the books to them? Could you listen to the same audio book as your children so that you have something to discuss and keep you connected? Another strategy to consider is to give your family a map, let them know where you are every night so they can mark it. It gives you something to talk about daily as well as when you get home. You can show them pictures of each place.
When you do get home, be present. Spend as much time as possible with your family and friends. Celebrate anything you might have missed on the road. Consider having a few small gifts or post cards of places you visited while you are out on the road. Make your time at home count so that when you unavoidably head back out on the road you are ready. If you feel connected to your family and friends when you leave home, it will help get you through the next stretch on the road.
It is no secret that truck driving can be a very dangerous career. There is so much to keep in mind while you are trying to keep yourself safe. This list will hopefully help as you take your journey out on the road.
Wear Your Seatbelts
This one might seem obvious but it is so important. It is going to decrease your risk of bodily injury if something is to happen on the road. Whether it is a minor or major accident your seatbelt really could save your life.
Frequent breaks on the road are beneficial for a number of reasons. They give your mind and body a chance to rest, even if you don’t feel tired it gives you a chance to regroup and stretch your muscles. It may feel like you are wasting time but in the long run it will keep you on the road longer. It will help to avoid mistakes later and looking after your body will keep you in the truck longer where you and your employer can make a profit.
Be aware of what the weather is going to do. Weather can change quickly, especially if you are in the mountains. Be prepared with all of the proper equipment for whatever weather you might run into. Know what lies ahead of you and plan accordingly.
This is a subject that comes up often and it is a notable one. Cell phones contribute to distracted driving every day. It is a valuable tool that most people can’t imagine living without now. Of course, they need to be used by truck drivers. The important thing to remember is to use it wisely and safely. If you need to use the phone and do not have access to a hands-free system, find a safe place where you can pull over to use your phone.
As a general tip, when in doubt slow down. It takes longer to stop when you are driving a truck especially if you are loaded. If traffic is getting heavy, the weather conditions are not good or there is road construction just slow down and do not use your cruise control. Cruise control should be used when road and weather conditions are ideal. When you drive slower it could help to prevent an accident or at the very least help to decrease the effects of an accident.
Pre-trip and post-trip inspections are critical. They will increase your safety ensuring all parts of your truck are in ideal running condition. It could help to avoid something going wrong on the road when the vehicle is at full speed. There are apps on your phone you can use to be sure all aspects of your inspections are done. It can even be set up with your to send the report directly to your employer.
There is never a guarantee of safety on the road, every time you go out there are risks that go along with it. There are many steps you can take to decrease the chance of an accident happening. The most important thing is to stay calm on the road and take your time.