Commercial drivers are relied upon to deliver goods—safely and on time. But long hours on the road are not something to take lightly. Drivers should adhere to general safety guidelines to keep themselves and other motorists safe. Weather conditions, the actions of other drivers, and wildlife are all potential hazards. But by sticking to a list of safety rules, commercial drivers can help ensure a safe journey, every time.
Top seven safety items for CDL drivers
Drivers should follow these safety requirements to avoid accidents and maintain their CDL:
Allow plenty of time to brake.
Big rigs are heavy and therefore take longer to slow and stop. For this reason, the driver should keep an adequate distance between their vehicle and those in front of them to allow plenty of time to step. CDL drivers should never tailgate. When driving in rain or snow, they must allow even more distance, and drive below the posted speed limit.
Avoid changing lanes.
A big rig has plenty of blind spots and this can make it difficult to see other vehicles in adjacent lanes. To avoid collisions, drivers should try to avoid changing lanes except when necessary. When changing lanes, they should signal well in advance of the change to alert other motorists of their intentions, and check side mirrors every 10 seconds.
Use your flashers adequately.
If it’s necessary to drive below the speed limit for an extended amount of time (for example in wintery conditions), drivers should use their flashers. If they must pull off the road and park (for example, if the driver becomes too sleepy to drive), they should use flashers, as well as reflective triangles or road flares.
Beware of bridges in the wintertime.
Bridges can become icier than other portions of the road due to the water below. For this reason, they may have “black ice” in the wintertime. CDL drivers should beware when crossing, reduce their speed and maintain their distance with other vehicles.
Don’t drive sleepy.
Arriving late to a delivery is much better than having an accident due to falling asleep at the wheel. When tired, it’s always best to pull off the road onto the shoulder (if you can safely do so) or at a rest stop to take a short nap.
Don’t forget to take breaks.
This is especially important when driving cross-country. Drivers should give their eyes and body a rest at regular intervals. They should never exceed more than 11 hours of continuous driving—it’s the law.
Mind work zones.
Drivers must slow down to the required speed limit and stay alert. Speeding in a work zone could lead to loss of a CDL.
Safety is the best policy
For more CDL safety rules, visit the department or registry of motor vehicles website for your state.