Any driver on the road should exercise proper safety, including practicing safe braking and maintaining adequate following distances. Truck drivers are operating much larger and dangerous vehicles that can carry oversize loads or tricky flatbeds. Truckers must demonstrate extra caution when maneuvering their trailers, and more so on a shared road. Truck drivers will have learned how to brake and maintain following distance in truck driving school. However, reviewing these trucking safety tips and considerations can inform all drivers on best practices. This way, truckers remember to check their driving habits, and others can recognize good or dangerous trucking on the road.
Safe braking occurs when the driver has adequate time to slow the vehicle down. Therefore, slamming on the brake pedals is never considered a safe practice. Sudden braking can cause tractor-trailers to skid or jackknife.
Exercising safe braking in trucking will require the driver to factor in their surroundings and rely on their experience and judgment. Always keep the trailer straight when braking. The proper braking technique calls for feathering the brake pedal until the truck comes to a stop. In some cases, truckers can use the Jake Brake, but this may be restricted in certain areas.
Adjust Trucking Speed
To set up for safe braking, adjusting the speed of the truck is the best preventative measure to avoid potentially-fatal braking maneuvers. As a trucking safety rule, the faster you go, the longer it takes to come to a complete stop. Commercial truck drivers also need to account for how heavy their haul is or for the road conditions. Additionally, drivers need to watch their speed on declines. Under some circumstances, it’s better to go slower and have a few annoyed drivers than to risk speeding up into a bad situation. Many trucks come outfitted with technology that monitors speed for regulatory purposes already.
Many resources will recommend different formulas or rules for calculating the safe following and stopping distances. While relying on your best judgment, remember it’s always better to overestimate the distance rather than underestimate in trucking safety.
Following Distance Factors
When determining safe following distance, there are several factors to take into account. Traffic speed, your current speed, truck conditions, road conditions, traffic, upcoming accidents or construction, and more all influence the distance decision-making. Give your truck sufficient distance, even if other drivers aren’t cooperating.
Avoid Dangerous Tailgating
Just because a vehicle isn’t tailgating doesn’t mean it is maintaining a safe following distance. Truck drivers need to be vigilant and predictive when driving to prevent getting themselves into a position where they accidentally tailgate. Safe braking and following distance practices occur when truckers drive defensively.
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