There are almost 400 000 registered trucks on South Africa’s roads and about 10 million vehicles in total. Accidents happen every day and how often do we hear about trucks in the radio traffic and accident reports? Too often.

For the truck drivers who work in the logistical transportation industry and have to drive and deliver from point A to B before returning home, there are ways you can save yourself from highlighting in the next traffic report. You should be concerned for your safety as much as the safety of the cargo you carry. There’s no space for you to be careless on the roads, there’s enough of that coming from the rest of the drivers out there.

Transport companies should have safety rules implemented for their long-haul truck drivers and if they don’t, you should approach your manager and insist they do. For your wellbeing, as well as that of your fellow truck drivers. Here are a few rules to stick to and possibly present to your manager.

Rules of the road

This may seem like an obvious thing to do as a driver of any vehicle, but it still needs to be reinforced. Too often accidents are a result of people not following the basic rules of the road and taking unnecessary chances.

When you’re the driver of a heavy-weight or truck vehicle, you have on-the-road specified instructions depending on where you are. You have certain lanes you are required to stick to, a speed limit for these specific lanes (and for your vehicle, by the way, which many truck drivers seem to be unaware of), as well as weight and height restrictions for certain areas.

It’s important you adhere to these rules, regardless of how much faster the truck can drive and where you think it will fit. These rules are put in place for a reason and you’ll be significantly reducing the risk of an accident by sticking to them.

A large vehicle doesn’t mean “indestructible”

Then there’s the ego problem some truck drivers have. They seem to think that because they are driving the largest vehicle on the road, it’s somehow indestructible. That’s simply not true. The truth is, strong winds are more likely to tip your truck over, more so than a light motor vehicle. And if you take a corner incorrectly, you’ll end up on your side.

More reason to stick to the speed limits and road rules. You aren’t untouchable. Even in your heavy motor vehicle.

Map out the way forward

When preparing for your long-distance trip, you need to start by mapping out the way forward, especially if you haven’t been on those roads before. Do some research about the speed limits, number of lanes, distance from one fill-up point to the next, local weather conditions, and if there are any road construction areas or technical driving sections you need to be aware of.

It’s always better and safer to know where you’re going. There will be less stress at the back of your mind, which will allow better focus on the road when you’re in the moment.

Be prepared for a breakdown

Trucks have a tendency to break down and you need to make sure that you are as prepared for it as possible. Make sure you have spare tyres available, warning or emergency triangles, water, oil and some general truck-engine knowledge.

Basically, if there is a quick-fix to get you safely to the next town, you need to know what it is and how to do it. Make sure you always have your phone charged and ready to make a call to the towing company when absolutely necessary. You’re also going to need to call your manager and report the incident.

As likely as breakdowns are, especially over long distances, there’s also the chance that you won’t break down at all. It’s still better to be prepared in any case.

Take care of yourself

You are the driver and your wellbeing is incredibly important for your job. Being alert and awake is an essential part of your job and driving long-distances becomes monotonous and exhausting. For that reason, it’s important to take care of yourself.

  • Snacks for the road: A way to keep your energy levels up is to bring nutritious snacks along with you. Chips and chocolate only go so far before they make you feel lethargic, so you need as much fresh food as possible. Sandwiches, apples, bananas, peanuts and protein bars are a good place to start. You can also bring along some energy drinks to keep you alert during the drive.
  • Stopover accommodation: Sleep is your friend as a long-haul truck driver, just not on the road where it, unfortunately, happens quite often. To force yourself to rest before hitting the road for more hours on end, pre-book your stopover accommodation. Then there will be every reason to call it a day and rest up, even when you feel like you could keep on driving. It’s so dangerous to be sleepy behind the wheel of any vehicle, let alone in an 8-tonne truck.
  • Drive in comfort: Bad posture and sitting for hours at a time isn’t the best for the body. So, along with taking regular breaks to stretch your legs, you should be driving in comfort. DAF trucks South Africa provide comfort and safety in their trucks and keep the driver in mind. You can tell by the spacious interior design, forward collision sensors, stability control and AS-Tronic transmission.