If you have been a professional truck driver for any length of time, this has probably happened to you more than once. You’re driving on an interstate highway when you see the sign that your left exit is coming up in a few miles. You signal your intent to move left, check your mirrors and see a clear lane. Just as you’re ready to start your move, you do another mirror check, and then you see it. Like a flash, the high-powered sports car with an aggressive driver behind the wheel is coming up on your left at a high rate of speed. And he’s determined that he isn’t going to be behind you heading for the exit.
Of course, as he’s racing by you, he notices all those cars that have already slowed down to exit. He jams on his brakes. You keep your thoughts to yourself, knowing that it’s just another day in the life of a truck driver. You also realize it could have been much worse.
Check and double-check your surroundings
You avoided a serious accident because you used your mirrors correctly. That second check you made before moving warned you that a speeding car was going to pass you even as the traffic in front of you was slowing down. It also made you aware of him when he hit the brakes in your blind spot.
Skilled truckers are always looking ahead, trying to predict what other drivers will do in the next 10-15 seconds. In the previous example, everything in front of you was going as expected as you approached the exit. Only your mirrors saved you from crushing a 3000-pound sports car with your 40-ton truck.
Adjust and use your mirrors
CDL training programs pay particular attention to the importance of your mirrors in the safe operation of your truck. It’s okay to look at your mirrors less often when you’re driving your passenger car, but that doesn’t cover you in your large truck.
Here’s what CDL trainers suggest:
- Adjust each mirror before and, if needed, during each trip. Make sure your trailer is straight to get the most accurate adjustment.
- Use your mirrors to see any vehicles that are overtaking you. Some of them might end up in your blind spot.
- Check both mirrors quickly. It’s surprising how many feet your truck can travel when you’re not watching the road ahead.
- If you’re carrying open cargo, use your mirrors to keep an eye on it. Straps, ropes and chains can come loose.
- Check your mirrors before, during and after changing lanes.
- When turning, check your mirror to make sure the rear of your truck won’t hit anything. Then rcheck the opposite mirror in case someone tries to pass you during the turn.
Life on the road is an adventure, but it needn’t be a dangerous one. The simple habit of paying attention to your mirrors can prevent a tragedy.
For more advice on training your trucking team, contact an expert at Contracted Drivers Services today.