Working during the holidays isn’t always an enjoyable prospect. When your office chair is the front seat of a semi-truck in the middle off all the holiday travel, it can be an even tougher pill to swallow.
But frustration aside, these weekends aren’t just the most heavily traveled on our roads and highways, they’re also the deadliest. So it’s of the utmost importance that commercial drivers be alert, aware and safe during holidays such as Memorial Day and July Fourth.
According to AAA Travel, the brutal winter we all just endured is going to set the stage for more travel than usual because everyone’s eager to get out, have fun and see friends and family. AAA is predicting a 1.5 percent increase in travel compared to last year, meaning “36.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more,” during the holiday weekend, and eight in 10 of those travelers will be driving.
That’s even with the uptick in gasoline prices.
Having that many people on the road leads to some ugly statistics. The National Safety Council reports that traffic deaths over the Memorial Day weekend are 11.5 percent higher than other weekends. And the July Fourth holiday weekend is considered the deadliest by many due to its average of about 500 traffic deaths each year.
Those stats are scary. Of course, you still have a job to do, and it’s an important one: Delivering your products or parts during a busy weekend. But there’s no reason to be intimidated because being a commercial driver means you’ve endured the best training and testing out there. And the statistics bear that out as truck drivers traditionally are the safest on the roads.
Still, keeping these safe-driving facts in mind will help your journey during these hectic holiday weekends.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
— Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Perform all your pre-trip checks, such as checking the brakes, tire pressure, wipers, fluids, etc.
— Plan out your trip thoroughly, including where you’ll take breaks, and stay tuned to traffic reports.
— Get plenty of sleep.
— Check the load and make sure it’s distributed appropriately.
— Have all your documents on hand and in order.
ON THE ROAD
— Bad weather? Slow down. Reduce your speed by one-third on wet roads, which have been shown to contribute to higher rates of large truck fatalities.
— Buckle up. Not wearing a seat belt means you could be thrown from your truck in a crash. That alone significantly increases your chances of dying in an accident.
— Stay alert. If you’ve been driving without a stop for long hours and you’re yawning, your eyes are heavy or you feel drowsy it’s time for a break. Some studies show drowsy driving to be as dangerous as drunk driving.
— Be aware of blind spots. Know what your blind spots are and check, then recheck them every 5-8 seconds. And always when merging.
— Mind your speed. Not only on the road, but especially on entrance and exit ramps where you could be liable to roll over or lose control. The posted speeds are for smaller vehicles.
— Keep calm. When traffic is at its worst, or your fellow drivers are acting foolish, don’t lose your temper. It will pass. A bad wreck won’t.
The key to safe driving isn’t complicated, it’s about making simple safety tips a habit. Remember your training and testing at all times. Those habits will keep you safe and on the road for many hauls to come.
Need another great tip to stay safe? Visit North Dixie Truck and Trailer, Inc. for National Brand Tires, the best brakes for the road, perfect alignments and all your parts and maintenance needs. Call our Parts Department at 419-222-8785 or our Maintenance Department at 221-3750 for the best service out there.
— Sources: North Dixie Truck and Trailer, Inc., AAA, American Family Insurance