You have seen the bad driving habits so many times if you stay on the road for a longer period.
The truck industry is like a living organism that keeps the USA economy on the move. You always think that while you are on the road most professional drivers will know what they are doing. Some of them have bad driving habits that we will explore.
So what exactly are these bad driving habits that we find amongst the truck drivers? Where do they come from, and how we can prevent them?
What are the bad driving habits that we see most often?
Fatigue and being alert on the road
- Being fatigued is one of the most dangerous events that can happen while driving your truck. According to federal statistics, driving fatigue is responsible for 13 percent of large truck accidents in the USA. Drowsy driving can impact your driving performance and sometimes end up in a fatal crash.
- Thanks to modern technology our ways to communicate had increased tenfold. Being a truck driver safe driving is your top priority. Driving and texting/talking on the phone is also one of the most common accident reasons. Every fleet manager should recognize the danger of using cell phones while driving. Implementing procedures for safer communication is a must to ensure the driver's safety.
- Never assume an uninterrupted right of way at an intersection.
- Unsure driving is also a bad driving habit. Pretty often experienced among the younger drivers, it is something to be wary about.
- Steering with one hand.
Non-Defensive Driving Habits
- You can see bad defensive driving skills on every road. Truck drivers should always be aware, because of the sheer size of their truck and their exposure.
- Lazy driving styles - impacts response times in the event of emergencies. Also, invite complacency into the truck cab.
- If your style of driving is lazy it can harm your response time. Always make sure that you are aware of your surroundings and be alert.
- Speeding is also a pretty common bad driving habit. In their attempt to earn more, drivers do not pay attention to the speed limit signs. Pretty often go over the limit.
- Always plan - assess the situation on the road and be ready to react. If your driving skills are solid, always pay attention to the other participants on the road. You never know in what condition are the drivers on the road.
- Poor observation - always be aware of your surroundings. There can be a driver on the road under the influence of alcohol or a hazard on the road.
- Blind spots - always make sure that you know where they are and are aware of them
- Indicators, hazards, flashlights, hooter - communicate on the road to alert other drivers.
- Aggression - related most of the time to tight working schedules and stress.
Inappropriate driving attitude
- Truck drivers' attitude towards the other drivers on the road needs to be appropriate. Every driver needs to take each trip seriously always making sure that they deliver goods in a safe matter.
- A pre-trip inspection is something that a lot of drivers are failing to do.
- Inability to focus on the task ahead, because of distractions or some other reason.
Behind the steering wheel behavior
- Seatbelts fastened behind the drivers back to switch off the warning buzzer.
- The hand resting on the gear lever.
- Re-setting on-board display messages while moving off.
- Pinching the steering wheel between your legs to set your hands free.
- Driving while crossing arms
Other bad driving behaviors:
- Rapid acceleration - doing this will put tension on the engine and will you will waste a lot of fuel. Because of their size trucks need to speed up slow and build up speed.
- Truck idling - according to Argonne National Laboratory the trucking industry loses around $3 billion from fuel consumption while the trucks are being idle.
- Hard braking - The drivers need to practice defense driving and they have to avoid hard braking.
- Using brakes when going downhill - Applying the brakes when going downhill increases the temperature of the brakes. If they are applied for longer periods friction is created. The performance of the brakes is reduced. Useful advice here is to downshift let the engine braking take over.
- Improperly warming the vehicle - If the temperature outside is lower than 32°F you need to warm up the engine for 3 to 5 minutes. By doing so you prevent unnecessary strain and tension.
- Underinflated tires - the reason for flats or blowouts, decrease the lifespan of the tires, fuel waste, and increase the risk of an accident. Always check the tire pressure and inflate tires to the standard.
What are the reasons for the bad driving habits in the first place?
- The main reasons behind bad driving habits? Drivers never go through defensive training. Most companies cut the training budget.
- Driving coaches do not have the appropriate skill level. They do not teach the new drivers the required skills.
- Overconfidence is part of poor driving habits. The driver thinks that he/she knows all the roads and they pay less attention to their surroundings.
- Drivers' behavior changes if they see that another driver on the road is driving recklessly. Companies can counter this by showing the drivers what is the correct attitude when they are driving. That will tempt them less to follow a bad driving pattern. Appropriate training in this area that would impact safety on our roads. We need the culture to be adopted holistically.
- Adopting bad driving practices from peers and little or no consequences for poor driving performance.
- Humans test their limits by nature - so do truck drivers.
- Common ailments and illnesses contribute to bad driving.
Truck size is also a formal reason for bad driving habits
The actual truck size is not the problem. It is the driver that did not get their license properly and they did not receive adequate training. A truck driver needs to pay more attention when they are driving a bigger vehicle. If they did not get the proper defensive driving skills the vehicle size will play little to no role if an accident happens. The younger drivers start with smaller size trucks. Once they become confided in their driving ability and they later move on to bigger size vehicle.
How can the trucking industry change improve and detect bad driving habits?
Defensive driver training - should be a prerequisite before receiving a Code EC or C1 license. Drivers should pass the existing K53 first. After that, they need to drive a Code B for at least 3 years crash-free. Next is to undergo Defensive driver training before issuing their heavy-duty driver's license. Companies need to set in place effective testing to determine driver skills. If needed assigning improvement courses is the proper course of action. They should include - Provide embedded knowledge training and effective Defensive Driver Training. The first one improves understanding of the truck. The second one improves understanding of the road.