Safety Tips for Essential Drivers

As the world continues to battle with COVID and its related complications, our essential workers have risen to the challenge and bravely continued forward with their jobs to make sure all of us have what we need, when we need it. Grocers, restaurants, delivery services, teachers, and of course, those in the medical care field, are being recognized for their heroism in the face of this past year’s crisis, and we want to take some time to show our recognition to another category of these vital workers. This blog is for our commercial drivers. Whether you’re responsible for getting a big rig of supplies across state lines to fill empty grocery store shelves or driving local delivery vehicles to take food and necessary items to those who can’t get out and do it on their own, we see you and appreciate you.

We also know that commercial driving comes with its own unique set of risks, especially when demands are high and rest is in short-supply. Accidents involving semi-trucks and commercial vehicles are, unfortunately, a common occurrence on the road, and sadly the majority of them result in at least one fatality. While we often focus on tips a motorist can do to protect himself while driving near or alongside large trucks and other commercial vehicles, we believe it’s also important to offer tips a commercial driver can do to protect himself (or herself) and, more importantly, the occupants of other cars. While nothing can offer a 100% guarantee that your truck or van won’t cause injury or harm, by following the below tips you can avoid dangerous collisions and practice better driving habits.

  • Rest when you need it. Too many truck drivers are exhausted while behind the wheel, largely due to trying to make shipping deadlines and/or make more money by packing more trips into a specific time period, especially in the current crisis. Driving while tired is dangerous for everyone on the road, including you, so take time to get rest, and do your best not to drive while tired. Many rest areas and truck stops are friendly toward drivers parking overnight, or for several hours at a time, to rest in their vehicles since many truck cabs are equipped with small sleeping quarters. Take advantage of this and make stops for a few hours of sleep each night so you can stay refreshed and alert. Don’t forget your mask, as many of these truck stops require one to use their restrooms and amenities.
  • Watch what you eat/drink. Obviously, you are required to abstain from alcohol while behind the wheel and using illegal drugs or even certain prescriptions is prohibited as well. However, there are other food and beverage choices that could be smart to avoid when you’re on long-distance commercial drives. While a cup of coffee to boost your energy is fine occasionally, limit caffeine, especially that found in energy drinks and “shots” of energy boost to add to other drink choices. Watching your sugar intake is smart as well. Food high in sugar will not only give you less energy in the long run, but can lead to a blood sugar crash which is not good when you’re behind the wheel since it can make you shaky, dizzy, and/or sleepy. Healthy choices don’t just make you a better driver when you spend much of your time behind the wheel, but they also boost your immune system and keep your body strong.
  • Limit distractions. Yes, you’ll likely have to answer some calls and have contact while behind the wheel, but many drivers are equipped with hands-free devices to let them talk without taking their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road. Never pick up your phone to do any texting or other activity on your phone or device if it requires you to take your attention away from the road in front of you. If you need to make a call, send a text, etc. pull off to do it, or wait until the next break in your trip. Additionally, limit using hands to adjust the radio or reach for things in other areas of the truck cab since this can also make you more susceptible to an accident.

As a commercial driver, it’s your responsibility to drive with the utmost care and to pay attention to others on the road around you. Many lives depend on your habits behind the wheel, and we need you to arrive safely to your destination. You are appreciated and admired by those of us who depend on you to fill our shelves, our gas pumps, and our hospitals with medical supplies. We are proud to be your trusted lawyer throughout the Tampa Bay area. When the unexpected happens on the road, or anywhere else, WE STAND FOR YOU!

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