Driving commercial vehicles is a responsibility that demands an unwavering commitment to safety. It is paramount to take a proactive approach to ensure the well-being of yourself, passengers, other road users and cargo by following safe driving techniques and regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance.
Whether you are behind the wheel or own a fleet of commercial vehicles, the principles of safety remain constant. From defensive driving to load securement to fatigue management, various factors make up commercial vehicle safety tips.
1. Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is a driving method that encourages drivers to employ constant vigilance on the road. This approach may reduce driving hazards by creating more opportunities for drivers to make well-informed decisions on the go. Some strategies this technique makes use of include:
- Navigating blind spots: Commercial vehicles and vans can have several areas that make it difficult to see behind the car. Drivers should look around them and use their mirrors and cameras to work around blind spots in the truck or van successfully.
- Following the three-second rule: A safe following distance helps to avoid collisions. The three-second rule indicates that drivers should allow a full three seconds to pass between the time a vehicle in front of them reaches a specific area on the road and the time it takes them to reach that same point. This can increase to five or 10 seconds in heavy weather.
- Knowing emergency preparedness: Vehicles should be equipped with emergency supplies, extra clothes and tools to aid them during a variety of emergency situations. This can include sudden changes in weather or the vehicle unexpectedly breaking down.
- Staying composed: Drivers should not let their frustrations manifest on the road, as this poses a risk to safe driving. They should employ strategies to de-escalate these situations, like putting distance between their vehicle and other drivers that entice frustrations.
- Using turn signals: Signaling before changing lanes is a legal requirement. Using turn signals also adds to safe driving practices and can help drivers avoid collisions.
- Practicing speed management: Another legal requirement is to adhere to the speed limit. Drivers should also take care to slow down in response to changing conditions on the road.
2. Follow Commercial Vehicle Best Practices
Work vans are larger than light commercial vehicles, with more blind spots, while demanding some slightly different driving techniques for parking and other maneuvers. Driving larger cars means there is a greater need to pay more attention to safety, especially when it comes to weather conditions that may pose challenges and varying road conditions that can be difficult to navigate. Potholes and uneven surfaces can be jarring in a larger vehicle, so it is best to maintain safe speeds, especially in unfamiliar areas.
Weather and Seasonal Safety
Keep an eye on the weather forecast to ensure you are prepared for changing conditions ahead of your journey. You may need to adapt your driving to various challenges during stormy and snowy conditions.
During the winter months, equip the van with the right tires and carry essential winter equipment like chains and a snow shovel to handle any challenges that come your way. In rainy conditions, drive cautiously and allow increased stopping distances on the road and in parking areas.
Adhering to Regulations
Drivers of commercial motor vehicles must adhere to hours of service regulations to get enough rest to stay alert while driving. Organizations can use electronic logging devices to help track compliance and remain accountable.
3. Stick to Preventative Maintenance Schedules
Driving safety starts with vehicle safety. Regular maintenance ensures vehicles have a lower risk of breaking down on the road. Telematics devices can give real-time visibility to the car's status and driving data. This information can allow for more proactive repairs and setting up a preventative maintenance schedule to enhance security. Conduct vehicle inspections before and after every long-haul trip. The Department of Transportation requires specific checks to protect drivers.
4. Prioritize Driving Comfort
Traveling can be uncomfortable and cumbersome if you do not set up your seating correctly. Adjust the van's wing mirrors to give you optimal views of blind spots. Set up the driver's seat in a comfortable position and ensure you take frequent breaks on a long drive to stay alert.
Paying attention to driver comforts like these can increase control and handling while minimizing distractions on the road. A comfortable driving environment also reduces stress for the driver, and investing in ergonomic seating can also help prevent musculoskeletal injuries in drivers. Prioritizing driver comfort directly influences safety and reduces the risk of accidents on the road.
5. Create an Organized Work Vehicle
Organizing your van increases efficiency and contributes to keeping cargo and equipment secure during transportation. You can look into van equipment containers, roof racks and partitions to protect items in transport from knocking into each other.
Securing Your Cargo
Commercial van drivers can significantly enhance their safety and that of their cargo or equipment when they keep loose items within the vehicle secure with the help of commercial vehicle systems. This practice also reduces the risk of accidents due to items moving around in the vehicle:
- Load distribution: Prioritize even load distribution inside the van by stacking heavier items low and toward the front of the vehicle to maintain balance. This will help to prevent excessive weight shifts during sudden stops and sharp turns.
- Shelving and organizers: Invest in organizers and shelving to compartmentalize and secure smaller items during transportation. This will help to maintain visibility and reduce distractions while driving.
- Straps and tie-downs: Use high-quality straps and tie-downs to secure cargo anchor items within the van to minimize movement during transit.
- En-route inspections: Conduct inspections every time you stop during your drip. Ensure straps are tight and the cargo inside the van has not shifted.
Keep Your Equipment Safe While Driving
Safety when driving a commercial vehicle comes down to proactive planning, adaptability to weather and seasonal challenges, and awareness of your surroundings and road conditions. By prioritizing safety in all circumstances, drivers can protect themselves, their cargo and others sharing the road.
Advantage Outfitters, LLC supplies lightweight, strong and durable custom-fit shelving solutions for a variety of commercial vans. We offer fast shipping and an easy-order process, shipping your products in 48 hours. Contact us today for additional information or to order your custom shelving package for optimized vehicle storage and safety.