Essential Truck Driving Safety Topics to Cover in Training
Your next truck driving safety training is coming up.
You know you have to keep it short and sweet because getting all your drivers to a meeting is challenging. Giving long lectures either bores your drivers or causes you to miss your targets.
Frequent training helps to remind experienced truck drivers of the important guidelines. It'll also assist your new drivers come to grips with the basics.
The best truck driving safety training gives your drivers the skills and focus needed to prevent severe accidents. You’ll also save your company from third-party lawsuits and driver compensation claims.
Perhaps you’re wondering, how do you offer practical truck driving safety training and without wasting valuable time?
By conducting training that covers the most relevant topics.
Today, we discuss four essential truck driving safety training topics which will ensure you cover:
- Driving safety tips
- Defensive driving techniques
- Appropriate driver behavior
- Truck fall prevention
- Good driving habits
- Basic vehicle repairs
TOPIC #1: Tactful Defensive Driving
Defensive driving may remind you of Fast and Furious, where Vin Diesel and his crew had to drive with exceptional skills to save the world and their lives.
Your truck drivers are definitely not in a Hollywood movie, but they share the same goals; to keep themselves, other drivers, and pedestrians safe.
Defensive driving increases driver safety by preventing collisions and accidents caused by:
- Bad or ignorant drivers
- Drunk drivers
- Extreme weather conditions like heavy rain
- Distracted drivers
- Flashing lights
- Terrible road conditions
- Unexpected traffic patterns
Defensive driving teaches your drivers the need to have a positive attitude while behind the wheel, and learning to read cues from other driver’s behavior.
The table below illustrates some defensive techniques and driver safety tips your truck drivers will learn and hopefully execute.
|Defensive Driving Practices||Execute Safe Driving|
|Avoid blind spots||Drive behind or ahead of other vehicles|
|Drive within the posted speed limit||Adjust according to speed limits|
|Stay alert and look ahead||Spot potential hazards and have ample time to react|
|Follow safe driving distance rules||Leave four to seven seconds of space|
|Scan the road and check mirrors||Pay attention to your surrounding|
A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration found that truck and commercial motor vehicle drivers were the safest road users due to superior driving techniques and training.
The research focused on accidents between passenger and commercial motor vehicles. They found that in most cases, the passenger vehicle was at fault.
Your drivers will continue being part of these outstanding statistics when you cover defensive driving as a topic.
TOPIC #2: Truck Driver Safety Guidelines
Your truckers have probably discussed the safety guidelines countless times. They might even find themselves reciting some safety tips for truck drivers in their sleep.
You need to remind them that routine driver safety guidelines training keeps the safety tips fresh in their memory.
Let them know there's always something new to learn every time, especially with the advancing technology that affects vehicle mechanics.
Expert Tip: You can make the topic interesting by letting the experienced drivers lead the discussion and instruct the newer ones. They can also share their experiences and how they applied the guidelines themselves.
The following are driver safety guidelines that a trucker and commercial driver must learn to prevent fatal crashes and have a high safety score.
- Maintain hours of service: The strict hours of operation for a truck driver aim to limit the number of tired and drowsy drivers on the road. The guideline stipulates that no truck driver should operate a vehicle after a 14-hour shift.
They also shouldn't exceed 60–70 hours of working if they've been on the road for 7–8 consecutive days.
- Maintain a safe distance: Truck drivers should maintain a safe following distance of approximately 20 feet because it takes more time for a truck to stop.
Driving too close can prompt the driver to brake suddenly in emergency situations, which can cause the brakes to lock or lead to dangerous cargo shifts.
- Maintain good traction: Extreme weather conditions and bad roads can cause the wheels to lose grip and reduce traction.
Your truck driver needs to know to what degree they should reduce speed (25–30%) and why they need to increase following distance once they experience reduced traction.
- Maintain good signaling habits: Truckers need to use turn signals early to give other vehicles time to adjust their speed.
Suddenly changing lanes causes accidents when the truck driver fails to notify the other road users in good time.
Securing your trucks combined with safety training helps ensure your personnel don't slip and fall off the truck's flatbed when loading or unloading cargo.
TOPIC #3: Dangerous Distracted Driving
You immediately think of a driver using their phone when you hear of distracted driving. You could be wondering why you need to cover this topic and tell your drivers to stop using their phones while on the road.
Distracted driving isn’t only about using a phone. Other activities that drivers downplay and often causes accidents include:
- Engaging in deep conversation with a passenger
- Fiddling with the stereo or navigation system
- Talking across to another driver
These activities divert your truck driver's attention from his duty of driving safely and staying alert on the road.
Discussing distracted driving using exciting and informative methods can help your drivers consider the above activities a safety hazard.
The table below describes three types of distracted driving you can cover in your lectures to make a lasting impact.
|Type of distracted driving||Description|
|Manual distraction||The driver removes their hands from the steering wheel|
|Visual distraction||The driver takes their eyes off the road|
|Cognitive distraction||The driver’s concentration is off driving|
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,800 people were killed and over 400,000 injured in 2018 due to distracted driving. One in five of those that died weren’t in vehicles. They were either biking or on foot.
Keep your drivers safe by regularly covering these three sub-topics and informing your drivers of such statistics. It’ll encourage them to avoid distractions.
TOPIC #4: Thorough Pre-Trip Inspection
Truckers can easily overlook or forget to inspect their vehicles before going on a long trip. Every trucking company must have their commercial trucks and trailers checked daily to detect early signs of vehicle defects and problems.
The U.S Department of Transportation estimates that 10% of all large truck crashes occur due to vehicle problems like tire or brake failure. Two areas you can discuss in training are; why it's important to do a pre-trip inspection and how to perform a pre-trip inspection.
The following video shows you how to perform a pre-trip inspection on a class A vehicle.
Remind your drivers that checking their trucks at the beginning of their shifts helps prevent collision and vehicle breakdown that can cost them valuable time and resources, and possibly their lives.
Some crucial areas that need inspection before any trip include:
- Air brake system
- Cargo securement
- Flatbed trailer fall protection systems
- Cruise control
- Emergency equipment and safety devices
- Steering functions
- Wheels, fasteners, and hubs
- Fuel and exhaust system
It takes an experienced trucker 15–30 minutes to inspect their vehicle and record the findings.
Your drivers need to carry their inspection reports on every trip. The report should include the trucking company’s name, license plate number, date, time, and location of inspection, and signature confirming that your drivers conducted the checks properly.
Pre-trip inspection as a topic can’t be left out because it helps to:
- Remind drivers that inspection can save their lives
- Show them how easily they can get it done
- Highlight how much time and resources it saves in the long run
- Remind them how important they are to you and the company.
OSHA regulations also require trucks and trailers to install a fall protection system because most truck’s flatbeds are more than 4 feet off the ground. You need to include this as part of your inspection requirement, or you could be liable to citations, fines, or criminal liability.
Consider investing in the tried and tested flatbed fall prevention system by Truck Fall Prevention to ensure compliance with OSHA guidelines.
Here’s what other safety management personnel had to say about it.
We needed a solution that was affordable, effective at preventing falls and quick and easy to set up, to ensure driver compliance. We have deployed dozens of NoFall units and I highly recommend them. Marc Scibilia, Director of Safety, Maintenance & Fleet Services, ADICA Trucking
In the past we’ve looked at fall prevention solutions and found them to be overly complex and expensive. Truck Fall Prevention’s solution is a fraction of the cost of alternatives, while being easy enough to deploy that our drivers actually use it. Dave Hassien, Plant Manager, Eaton Steel Corp.
When a driver nearly sued us after a falling from a flatbed truck we knew we had to get serious about safety. Given how easy the NoFalls system is to use, making it mandatory for all drivers is a no-brainer. Rabih Elzaroui, Plant Manager, Hercules Drawn Steel
What Are the Major Hazards Truck Drivers Experience?
The top four hazards for truck drivers are road accidents, ergonomic injuries, equipment-related traumas, and fall accidents from working on a flatbed without a truck fall prevention system. You can take a fall risk profile assessment quiz and get a free personalized recommendation to eliminate falls as a hazard.
How Do Truckers Ensure the Safety of Other Drivers?
By going for regular training where they discuss topics such as;
- Driving safety tips,
- Fleet safety requirements
- Avoiding blind spots
- Adjusting speed during bad weather and heavy traffic
- Preventing flatbed trailer truck falls
How Often Do Drivers Have to Take Retests for a Commercial Driver’s License?
Drivers aren’t required to retest unless the license has expired. They will only have to renew their license upon expiration which is 5 to 8 years depending on your state. Be sure to track the validity of your driver’s licenses to ensure all drivers are in full compliance with the law.