7 Memorable Truck Driver Safety Messages That Can Save Lives
The trucking industry plays a crucial role in the US economy—from delivering raw materials to distributing finished goods to your favorite stores.
For all that they do, truck drivers have one of the most dangerous jobs and are at risk of:
- Fatal road accidents
- Injuries during loading and unloading (like falling off flatbed trucks)
- Ergonomic injuries from fatigue and heavy lifting
- Lifestyle diseases such as sleep disorders and heart problems
Both government agencies and trucking companies have enforced several measures to avert death and injuries in the industry. Commercial drivers need to follow these rules and employ defensive driving techniques to ensure road safety.
We’ve narrowed down the most important daily safety messages to help truck drivers nurture good driving habits and increase safety on our roads.
Message #1: Conduct a Pre-trip Safety Inspection
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all drivers to fill in a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) to ensure their truck is street legal before hitting the road.
Unfortunately, many truck drivers ignore this life-saving step and will set out on a long-distance trip, oblivious to the potential hazards they pose to other vehicles.
Use this checklist to ensure your truck is roadworthy before your haul:
- Tires have a proper tread depth, closed valves, and are well inflated.
- The brakes operate correctly and have no leaks.
- Fluid levels are well-maintained, including brake fluid, coolant, oil, and transmission fluid.
- The coupling system has no defects—the fifth wheel, airlines, gap, mounting bolt, and locking jaws are all in place.
- The safety equipment is in working condition and properly secured (including fire extinguishers, a first aid kit, and reflective triangles).
- All the lights are functioning well—check the headlights, flashers, turn signals, and brake lights.
Message #2: Keep Tabs on the Weather
A commercial driver can cover hundreds of miles in a day. What might start out as a bright, sunny morning can turn to a foggy and stormy afternoon as you cross states.
Check the forecast before starting your trip, and occasionally when you’re on the road, to prepare for changes in weather and road conditions.
To stay safe in bad weather:
- Don’t drive in low visibility caused by heavy fog, dust storms, or snow—pull over at a truck stop and wait until the roads are clear.
- If the visibility is low but you can still drive, keep your headlights on to ensure other drivers can see you.
- If the roads are impassable because of snow, park your truck. Keep your engine running to avoid freezing, and keep your flashing lights on to stay visible.
- Don’t drive in intense heat to avoid tire bursts.
- Remember to pack for the weather—carry warm blankets, food, and water in case you get stuck in a storm.
Message #3: Stay Alert When Driving
Distracted driving is a common cause of road accidents in the US. Data from NHTSA shows that 3,142 people died as a result of distracted driving in 2019.
Commercial trucks require your total concentration, and taking your eyes off the road—even for a few seconds—could lead to a fatal vehicle crash.
The Virginia Transportation Tech Institute (VTTI) has done a lot of research on distracted driving and suggest that you:
- Don’t text—you’re 23 times more likely to crash your truck when texting.
- Use hands-free mobile phones—you’re six times more likely to cause an accident when dialing your cell phone.
- Don’t drive drunk—alcohol increases the risk of fatal crashes by seven times.
Expert Tip: If you feel fatigued, stop your truck and take a break. You don’t want to fall asleep while driving your 18-wheeler on an expressway.
Message #4: Always Wear Your Seat Belt
The impact of a collision can throw you out of your vehicle, through the windscreen, and cause fatal injuries. Wearing a seat belt restrains you and keeps you secured in your seat, even during a collision.
According to a 2020 NHTSA report, over 90% of Americans buckle up when driving.
On the other hand, long-haul truckers have a reputation for ignoring seat belts. A CDC survey found that 33% of truckers who died in road accidents were unbelted.
Even worse, some truckers defend their decision with dangerous myths. Let’s dispel some of them:
|Safety belts are uncomfortable, especially for long trips.||A properly worn safety belt causes no discomfort.|
|The truck’s strong body will protect you from injuries.||A collision can cause you to lose control and throw you out of the vehicle. Besides, if you get into an accident with another trailer, then you have no size advantage.|
|Experienced drivers don’t need to buckle up.||You may be safety-conscious, but you can’t prevent other drivers from hitting you, adverse weather, or mechanical breakdowns from happening.|
|In the event of an accident, you’d rather be thrown out of the vehicle than stuck inside.||You’re four times more likely to die if you’re ejected from the truck during an accident.|
|It takes too much time to buckle up.||It takes less than three seconds to buckle up.|
Review how to wear your safety belt properly:
Message #5: Know Your Blind Spots
Drivers of small passenger cars have fewer blind spots, which they can easily view using the rear-view and side mirrors. Big rigs don’t have this luxury.
A truck has blind spots on all four sides, putting other road users at risk.
This video by the FMCSA provides a visualization of the dangerous blind spot zones:
Unfortunately, some truckers and other road users falsely assume that since a truck driver’s seat is high, they can see all around the vehicle. This can result in cyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers blindly overtaking or changing lanes, causing fatal road accidents.
To avoid blind spot zone truck accidents, a truck driver should:
- Reduce lane changes and signal in advance if you must.
- Check mirrors frequently and be conscious of vehicles entering your blind spots.
- Leave sufficient space all around your truck by maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles.
Message #6: Stay Within the Posted Speed Limit
A speeding truck that loses control can cause multiple crashes and fatalities.
Each state sets its speed limits according to population, road engineering, and traffic patterns. Rural states with lower populations and vast freeways have higher speed limits than urban areas with heavy traffic.
Texas has the highest speed limit at 85 mph, while Washington has the lowest at 55 mph.
Besides noting speed signals on highways and interstate roads, truck drivers should also be cautious when driving in school and work zones.
Look out for flag crews that signal unexpected traffic issues such as road workers, school crosswalks, or lane shifts and closures.
Expert tip: Although cruise control can help you drive within the speed limit, don’t use it in inclement weather, on busy roads, or when you’re tired. At these times, you must remain in total control of your vehicle.
Message #7: Practice Safe Loading and Unloading
Road accidents aside, truck drivers may also get injured during loading and loading.
The most common injuries during loading and unloading occur when:
- Unsecured or overloaded cargo falls on the truck driver or bystanders.
- The truck rolls away because its parking brakes or stabilizers aren’t fully engaged.
- The driver falls off of an unrestrained high platform such as a flatbed truck.
- Uncontrolled moving traffic in the parking lot causes confusion and accidents.
Trucking companies should enforce best practices and follow OSHA guidelines to ensure workplace safety during loading and unloading.
Some of these safety practices include:
Get the NoFalls System for Your Truck Drivers
Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers have enclosures that protect cargo from adverse weather conditions, theft, and falling off. They also ensure that drivers and loaders can safely load and unload cargo without slipping off the truck.
Flatbed trucks, on the other hand, have an open back with no sides or roof. While this design makes them perfect for carrying large cargo that would otherwise not fit in closed-in trucks, it increases the risk of falls and fatal injuries.
As a result, trucking companies become susceptible to liability claims and fines from OSHA for employees' non-compliance with safe working surfaces.
One way to improve the safety of flatbed trucks and prevent personnel from falling is by using our NoFalls System that is:
- Lightweight—you can carry it along on your trips
- Easy to install and take down—you can leave it up in transit to save time
- Durable and weather-resistant—can hold up to 1000 lbs
The NoFalls System also comes with a 30-day warranty against manufacturer defects.
As you can see from these reviews, our customers are happy:
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.
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.
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.
Ready to make your flatbed truck fall-free?