Truck drivers have a dangerous job, between operating heavy-duty vehicles, transporting hazardous materials, navigating the road alongside dangerous drivers, poor weather conditions, fatigue and much more. That’s why it’s crucial for companies to promote a culture of safety and nurture good driving habits. Safety managers can do this by sending out frequent safety messages to their truck drivers.
Daily Safety Messages for Truck Drivers
Safety messages are a simple way to ensure that good driving behavior is top-of-mind among your fleet. Texting or emailing your drivers a daily safety message can help reiterate specific skills and company driving standards.
The truck safety topics covered in your messaging can range from basic reminders to more specific defensive driving skills. If you’re a safety manager looking to implement more communication around safety, we’ve gathered a week’s worth of messaging examples you can customize and share with your fleet.
Trucking Safety Message: Day 1
Driver Fatigue Management
NHTSA has determined that the root cause of many crashes is driver fatigue. Fatigue can come on as a result of lack of sleep or exercise, an improper diet, performing long and tedious tasks, medications or illness. When you drive fatigued, it affects your judgment, perception and reaction time. In fact, a driver who is sleep deprived for 28 hours has a reaction time equivalent to an intoxicated driver with a 0.10 blood alcohol level, which is above the legal limit. So even if you know what to do to avoid an accident, you won’t be able to respond quickly enough to do so. If you’re driving and feel fatigue setting in:
- Pull over to a safe and legal place to park.
- Don’t just gulp down coffee or sodas – they won’t correct your fatigue.
- If you’re still feeling fatigued after a short rest, contact your dispatcher to let them know you need to get some sleep.
- You may need a 15-20 minute power nap or a few hours of interrupted sleep.
Trucking Safety Message: Day 2
Managing your speed is fundamental when it comes to defensive driving. Driving too fast is the number one cause of crashes. So being able to manage your speed in any driving situation will help ensure that you remain safe. When managing your speed, you need to consider the size and weight of your vehicle, your visibility and the road conditions you are driving on. The essential parts of speed management include:
- Minding your speed even when you’re in a hurry. If you get into a crash or are pulled over, you’ve delayed yourself a lot longer.
- Being aware of your vehicle’s total stopping distance, or how far your truck will need to travel in order to come to a complete stop. This is based on the weight of your vehicle and how fast you’re moving.
- Adjusting your speed based on the changes in road conditions and visibility, such as darkness, heavy fog, roads with many curves, hills, accidents or stopped vehicles on the shoulder, construction zones, or weather conditions such as rain or snow.
- Not traveling faster than your headlights when it’s dark.
Trucking Safety Message: Day 3
Managing and maintaining the space around your vehicle will help ensure that there are no collisions with other vehicles or fixed objects. Space management means taking charge of the space around your truck and being responsible for what happens in that space. When it comes to proper space management, proactive strategies include:
- Being aware of what’s going on in front, behind, to the left, right, above and below your truck. This is known as your space cushion.
- Making sure you have the time to react and the room to move out of danger.
- Allowing the right amount of time and space to make proper turns and change lanes.
- Being aware of other drivers and adjusting for those who may be tailgating or weaving in and out of lanes.
Trucking Safety Message: Day 4
According to research conducted by AAA, drivers make 100 decisions per mile driven. This is why your full, undivided attention is required. You must maintain 100% attention in order to safely control your rig and respond to events happening on the road around you. Taking your eyes off the road or allowing your mind to wander, even for a few seconds, can lead to a disaster very quickly. Types of driver distractions you should try your best avoid include:
- Visual – anything that takes your eyes away from the road, such as billboards, street signs, your passengers or your cellphone.
- Auditory – noises that affect your ability to hear and take away your attention from the road, such as music or talking on the phone.
- Manual – removing your hand(s) from the wheel to accomplish other tasks, such as eating, texting or searching for items in the front or back seats.
- Cognitive – something that takes your focus off driving, such as a conversation, emotions or fatigue.
Trucking Safety Message: Day 5
Road range is an endangerment of public safety. Signs of road rage can include rude and offensive gestures, verbal insults, physical threats and dangerous driving. These can be targeted towards another driver or non-drivers such as pedestrians or cyclists as a way to intimidate or release frustration. As a professional driver, you must appropriately deal with these situations to keep yourself safe and out of trouble. You can avoid common road rage situations by:
- Only using your low beams, except when unlit conditions require the use of high beams. Dim your lights for oncoming traffic, and don’t retaliate to oncoming high beams by flashing your own.
- Being mindful of other drivers while merging. When traffic permits, move out of the right-hand lane to allow vehicles to enter from the onramps.
- Being courteous if you’re blocking traffic. Remember that you are operating a big and cumbersome vehicle. Pull over when you can, so the line of motorists behind you can pass.
- Getting out of the way and avoiding angry drivers. If a hostile motorist is signaling for your attention, don’t make eye contact. If a motorist pursues you, don’t pull over. Drive to a populated area, like a truck stop, where you can get help and have witnesses.
- Reducing your stress. You can’t control traffic, but you can control your reaction to it.
Trucking Safety Message: Day 6
Scanning Your Environment
When scanning the road, you should be looking for anything that blocks your path or that gives you a heads up to change course, like street signs that alert you of a turn or traffic signal coming up. Drivers need to keep an eye out for people, road slickness, merging lanes, rough shoulders, school zones, construction sites and slowing or stopping vehicles. Here are a few quick safety reminders when it comes to properly scanning your environment:
- When crossing traffic, the rule of thumb is to always look left first, because that’s where the immediate oncoming traffic will be coming from. Then check your right side. Before going, look left again to make sure the conditions have not changed.
- Always check first that the way ahead of you is clear before taking your eyes off the road to check your side mirrors.
- Use your mirrors to make sure your vehicle is centered in the lane, look for tailgaters and determine if your path is clear for making a lane change or turn. You should also use your mirrors to keep an eye on your load.
Trucking Safety Message: Day 7
Using Common Sense
A defensive driver must be able to spot a problem and know how to deal with it. Knowing what goes on all around you is referred to as having a good sense of the environment. A defensive driver is aware of the changes on the road and when they pose a potential threat. Anything you encounter on the highway could turn into a problem or an obstacle, and you must use common sense in order to deal with whatever you may come across. In order to do so confidently, you can draw from:
- Your prior experience
- Previous accidents or near accidents
- Information you’ve learned from other drivers
- Accident reports
Other Strategies to Improve Truck Driver Safety: Frequent Driver Training
The truck safety messages above offer defensive driving tips and reminders that serve as great refreshers for your drivers. Beyond safety messages, there are other ways for companies to be proactive when it comes to their driver safety strategy. By assigning frequent driver training, safety managers can reinforce these safety messages and further promote a culture of safety among their fleet. Fleets that train monthly have far fewer violations – 25% less than the industry average and 50% less than fleets that train twice a year.
Want to explore driver training for commercial drivers, but unsure where to start? Download our free checklist that explores the seven fundamentals of defensive driver training.