Summer Driving Safety Tips for Truck Drivers
A Record Number of Travelers are Hitting the Roadways This Summer, Which Means Truckers Must Be Extra Vigilant
Summer is the perfect time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the weather. But as a truck driver, you know this can be one of the busiest times of the year – in terms of both your workload and the traffic you face on your routes. Now is the time to be careful and do everything you can to make the roads a safer place for everyone.
Below, we discuss . . .
- Factors that contribute to unsafe driving
- Summer driving safety tips for truck drivers
- The secret weapon that more safety managers should use to make sure truck drivers stay safe on the roads this summer
Unsafe Summer Driving Factors
What exactly makes summer the season of unsafe driving? Here are just a few key contributors to the greater traffic volume and higher risk of accidents during the sunniest time of the year.
Fast & Fun Vehicles
Summer is hot rod and motorcycle season! More drivers will be having fun in their convertibles, classic cars, and bikes, making the roads riskier for them and other motorists. It’s best to take caution when you’re traveling the same routes as these particular vehicles, especially during inclement weather or rough road conditions.
Holidays, Events & Celebrations
There’s so much going on in such a few short months, which means you can expect to see many more drivers on the road compared to other times of the year when everyone wants to stay inside or avoid the roads as much as they can.
From Memorial Day as the official kickoff of the season, Labor Day, Independence Day, and all the beach parties, bonfires, weddings, and other events in between, it’s easy to see why there are more drivers (and, unfortunately, oftentimes impaired ones) taking to the streets.
‘Tis the season for road closures, detours, and the various construction projects that cause them. (Like the I-95 collapse in Pennsylvania.)
Any driver traveling on an unfamiliar route may make some hazardous decisions, fail to follow flaggers or new signage, or speed through the construction zone. This may cause delays – or worse – accidents.
As if the construction wasn’t causing enough of a disturbance to your everyday commute or travel plans, any type of traffic jam or wreck can make them even harder to deal with during the summer months.
For the first time since 2019, vacation plans during the summer travel season aren't dominated by topics like "variants" and "surges."
People are looking forward to getting away—even with inflation. The latter simply means the mode of travel might change with more people choosing roadways over runways.
NBC News reports that "26% of vacationers plan to drive rather than fly to their destinations this summer," which is up from 16% last year.
Bottom line: It's essential that truck drivers remain vigilant.
Summer Driving Safety Tips for Truck Drivers
With these extra hazards in mind, there are some additional safety precautions you should be taking specifically during the summer.
Carefully Plan Your Routes
Taking extra time to schedule your trips during periods of lighter traffic can help you get to your destination quickly and safely. There are numerous apps available to help you with this, and your trucking GPS should point you in the right direction if there are any obstacles or detours in place.
It’s also important to take the weather conditions along your route into consideration. Tropical storms, tornados, sandstorms, wildfires, and just about everything in between are more likely to occur in the hot months, which can severely impact your departure and arrival times. Regularly check weather apps while you’re on the road to stay on top of any alerts that may come up.
Take Care of Yourself
Speaking of the weather, it’s important to keep your health in mind during every season, but especially in the summer. The heat can take a toll on your hydration and energy levels, so remember to drink plenty of water throughout your workday and take intermittent breaks as needed.
Your rest is just as important as your work. Watch your hours of service and make sure you’re getting enough rest during off-duty hours. (Here are good tips for combating truck driver fatigue.)
Maintaining the air conditioning and checking any power windows in your rig can help keep you cool during long trips. Parking in shady areas at your stops makes a difference as well. Always apply sunscreen if you can’t avoid sun exposure, even if it’s for short periods of time.
Keep in mind that wildfire smoke travels hundreds and thousands of miles and can affect air quality (as we've recently seen with the Canadian wildfires and the smoke that's blanketed the Northeast). Breathing in smoke from wildfires, even for short periods, is extremely detrimental to our health. We know truckers might like to stretch their legs and hang outside during pit stops after being cooped up in the cab all day. Just make sure the air outside is safe. A great website to check is AirNow.gov. Plug in your location and get real-time air quality data where you are.
And don't forget your peepers! Protect your eyes with the right sunglasses, ones that offer 100% UV protection. Wear them year-round and even on partly cloudy days. Check out this great resource on eye health for truck drivers.
Prioritize Truck Maintenance
While this should already be a priority for you as a driver, it’s never a bad idea to give your truck some extra TLC during the summer. Pre- and post-inspections should be done regularly and thoroughly to catch any fixes that need to be addressed.
Higher temperatures can impact tire pressure, so be sure to check their air levels. Being mindful of your truck’s temperature while idling and its coolant levels is a smart decision, too. The last thing you want to do is deal with a breakdown in the heat!
Avoid Dangerous Distractions
Summer may feel like a carefree season, but that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind when it comes to distracted driving—and even more so when you consider this sobering statistic: The most distracted truck drivers are nearly 72% more likely to be involved in a "near collision" than other drivers, according to Truckinginfo.com.
Eating, using a GPS, and texting or talking on the phone while driving are all risky decisions (and the latter are illegal for truck drivers!). Be diligent about avoiding these behaviors as much as you can.
Need help? Check out devices and technology that help combat distracted driving.
Remember, not only can cell phone use result in a ticket, but all the above distractions can cause major accidents. With more accidents leading to severe lawsuits and nuclear verdicts, it’s best to always avoid taking careless actions. Your safety, livelihood, and employer depend on it!
Make the Most of Summer 2023
Being a truck driver means having a huge amount of responsibility resting on your shoulders, and that’s no different during the summer months. Set the example of how we all should drive on the roads, no matter what type of vehicle we’re traveling in.
Putting these summer safety tips into action will help ensure you get home safely so you can enjoy the warmer weather, festivities, and holidays these coming months have to offer.
If you’re a safety or terminal manager, communicating these recommendations to your fleet will help reduce the risk of accidents and remind your drivers of the impact they can make on roadways everywhere.
Foley can also help you keep track of their driving habits with our MVR monitoring program. To learn more about this effortless method of keeping an eye on moving violations, license expirations, and medical card downgrades, contact us!