August 10, 2017
By: J.J. Lemire, Director Of Loss Control, Forestry Mutual Insurance Company
Data compiled by the Federal Highway Safety Administration reveal that speed and driver distractions are the two main causes of truck accidents. Issues such as cell phone or CB radio use, becoming sleepy from long hauls, along with boredom, are main contributors. The driver has direct control of both speed and distraction factors. If you work to control them chances are good that you’ll make it home to family and friends, but do nothing and you could become a statistic for us to talk about.
Sometimes external sources or hazards beyond your control contribute or cause these accidents. How often have you seen another driver race to get in front of the truck because they did not want to be stuck behind the tractor and trailer? You do not have control over bad drivers, but always remain alert and be on the lookout for situations that can lead to an accident. Look ahead and constantly scan!
If you keep the truck and trailer on the pavement, you lessen the chance of rollovers from soft shoulders or sudden weight shifts. Let’s consider some simple ideas on how to keep safety awareness at a high level.
• Animals on the road. Do not try to swerve suddenly to avoid them, as the center of gravity can move and cause rollovers.
• Fog and heavy rain. Slow down when visibility is not good. These conditions reduce the distance you can see in front of you.
• Gawking at the scenery. Avoid this distraction and keep your attention on the road.
• Road conditions. Potholes, loose gravel and uneven surfaces create hazards that can lead to flat tires, or loss of control of the truck. Scan ahead to avoid them.
• Narrow roads. Slow down.
• Farm equipment. If you drive in rural areas, slow-moving and often wide farm machinery is a way of life. Be prepared for the unexpected.
• School buses. Always be aware they make frequent stops and that children do not always follow the rules when crossing high traffic areas.
• Curves. Again, slow down. More trucks roll over due to excessive speed for the road condition. You may be doing the posted “speed” as you enter a curve or ramp but it may be too fast for your load.
• Black ice and snow. These conditions can cause you to loose traction, especially on bridges. Use caution.
Remember, accidents can be prevented. Lowering risk through safety awareness reduces the chance of an accident. Taking the time to hold safety briefings with your trucking employees demonstrates your concern for them. Do more than encourage safety. Demand it.