Driving large trucks for a living can be a daunting and dangerous task, particularly on the highway. Not only do semi-trucks weigh tons, but their drivers also have to be completely cognizant of smaller vehicles on the road. It can be difficult to remain alert and fully aware of your surroundings while driving long distances through the night.

Driver error, mechanical failures and unsafe road conditions are among the primary causes for tractor-trailer crashes. So what can be done to keep truckers safe? What can trucking companies do to ensure the safety of their drivers, and what should the public know about sharing the road with 18-wheelers?

Get a solid night’s sleep and stay energized

First and foremost, truckers have to treat their bodies well in order to maintain energy on long distance hauls. Getting a good night’s rest is crucial, as well as eating food and snacks that aren’t heavy enough to pull energy down. Eating carbohydrate-loaded foods can cause sleepiness behind the wheel, so it’s important for truckers to choose light snacks like fruit or nuts while on the road.

A life is more important than a deadline

Driving at night and driving through inclement weather play huge roles in the safety of the driver. Trucking companies cannot ensure that drivers won’t get drowsy behind the wheel, but there are precautions that can be taken in case that does occur. Some trucking companies choose to build mini headquarters on commonly driven routes, which allows truckers to pull over and rest during their trip. Simply making sure a driver knows they can pull over at any time to rest or get some fresh air can make a huge difference.

Additionally, if the weather is too bad to drive through safely, trucking companies should allow their drivers to pull over and wait out the storm. There’s no need to put driver’s lives on the line just to make a deadline. When there are so many factors that are out of the trucking company’s hands, it’s important to take control of what can be done in order to help ensure safety.

Other drivers should respect the trucker’s space

Passenger vehicles can often feel intimidated or uncomfortable driving near semi-trucks. You may also see smaller cars zoom past 18-wheelers in an attempt not to get stuck behind them. It’s important for passenger cars to keep in mind that large trucks also have large blind spots. Though they have several oversized mirrors on either door, it can still be incredibly difficult or even impossible for them to see a small car.

While moving past a tractor-trailer, the other driver should be sure not to linger in their blind spots. They should also be sure to put their turn signal on far enough in advance for the truck driver to see it and be able to react if necessary. Be patient when passing so that the trucker isn’t caught off guard. It’s also important to give the truck more than enough space when finally moving into their lane.

The weight of the 18-wheeler itself as well as the load it carries makes a huge difference in the time they need to stop. There are a plethora of things that truck drivers have to keep in mind behind the wheel, so the more respect that other drivers can give them when sharing the road, the safer truckers will be.

Final thoughts

While truck drivers are ultimately responsible for their own actions behind the wheel, there are also factors they aren’t able to control. Through cooperation from trucking companies and a display of patience and respect from other drivers, it’s possible to help ensure the safety of truckers on the road.