Truck driver safety is a priority for PAM and it’s easy for truck drivers to dismiss summer hazards on the road, especially compared to the snow, ice, and severe road conditions dished out by old man winter. But in the summer, the kids are out of school and families are on vacation, which means more cars on the interstate, more pedestrians and cyclists are on the side roads, and there are more environmental concerns. Fortunately, thanks to PAM safety training, our drivers can easily navigate around these summer hazards and keep their cool, even in the dog-days of summer.
Truck Driver Safety Hazard #1: Construction Zones
Even though it may seem cruel to see road crews out working in the hot summer months, this is the time that most road work occurs. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, this is the time that pavement quality is the best — ensuring that any work or repair is more likely to last.
This can seriously disrupt a truck driver’s route or cause distractions. Not only does an increase in construction lead to more traffic or bottleneck situations due to lane or road closures, it creates more dangerous situations to navigate than what you might see at other times of the year. From uneven pavement to unprotected workers in precarious situations, there is simply more to be aware of. And, construction zones heighten other factors such as fines or citations. These are often doubled or tripled in a work zone, increasing the financial damage you might accrue if you aren’t aware of your surroundings.
Truck Driver Safety Hazard #2: Equipment Failure
For seasoned truck drivers, making sure that your truck and auxiliary equipment is functioning at its highest level is likely a no brainer. Checking tire tread and inflation, not letting any liquids get low, and other equipment functionality are a part of the safety 101 routine. However, staying on top of these maintenance issues is even more important during the summer.
For example, May through October is “tire blowout season”. There are several reasons for this, but one main reason is the combination of road heat intensity and under-inflated tires, so monitoring your tire pressure is even more critical. Additionally, heat — coupled with vibration — is a leading cause of battery failure. Staying vigilant on your battery’s life, as well as securing its mount during the summer months, can reduce the possibility of battery failure. Finally, confirming that your coolant does not get low helps mitigate overheating. Avoiding these and other causes for equipment breakdowns can keep you from having a meltdown if you’re stranded on the side of the road.
Truck Driver Safety Hazard #3: Unstable Weather
It is true that environmental conditions make roadways the most dangerous for truck drivers in the colder months when ice, snow, and other forms of freezing precipitation are expected. A slightly less known fact, though, is that rain, drizzle, and fog actually cause roadways to be the most slippery because this is when liquid mixes with the natural oil content on the pavement. Especially at the beginning of a rain or thunderstorm, your traction is more likely to be reduced, causing you to lose control of your vehicle.
Additionally, summer months are notorious for unpredictable weather conditions. Summer showers might come up unexpectedly causing flash flooding, lower visibility, as well as more dangerous road conditions. First, staying one step ahead by knowing what weather conditions you will be encountering can allow you to avoid or plan ahead for them. Secondly, if you find yourself in an unexpected weather event, think ahead about your options for vehicle safety.
Truck Driver Safety Hazard #4: Road Sharing
Busier highways and byways are an expected casualty of the summer season, bringing with them potential road safety hazards. Vacations, staycations, and the desire to be outdoors creates many potential obstacles that are not common concerns in the winter. Outdoor sports such as biking, running, and walking are more common during summer months, as are recreational vehicles, boat hauling, and motorcycles. Most of the individuals driving these vehicles only do so during warmer months, and the RV rentals (with less experienced drivers) has increased in the last few years.
One way truck drivers can stay safe during increased traffic is to follow their PAM training, which includes maintaining proper lead time and following distance. Our blog titled Smith System Driving: 5 Keys to Truck Safety is especially relevant in these circumstances. Keeping concepts such as Getting The Big Picture, Leaving Yourself an Out, and Keeping Your Eyes Moving, are tried-and-true best practices that can dramatically reduce the chance of accidents. Refreshing yourself on these principals over the summer months will help keep safety top-of-mind.
Keeping summer carefree starts with keeping driving safety concerns unique to summer on the forefront of our minds. That way whether you’re on the road for fun or function, you can rest assured that the roads are safer for everyone. If you’re looking to drive for a company that values safety for those in cabs and in cars, we’d love to talk to you. Check out our available jobs today.