In order to drive a semi-truck, you need to pass a completely separate test from the one you took to receive your driver’s license. This test will award you with your Class D driver’s license, or CDL, and allow you to drive big rigs and haul loads. However, just because you pass the test doesn’t mean you can’t use the occasional reminder about how to drive a semi-truck safely. Keep reading to get tips that will help keep you—and everyone on the road with you—a whole lot safer.
Be Aware of Blind Spots
The blind spot on a 4-door sedan is minuscule compared to the blind spots on a semi-truck. Make sure you’re aware of all your blind spots—front, rear, and on both sides—and check them regularly. This means double-checking those spots when you want to merge or change lanes and throughout your drive. Generally, it’s a good idea to check your blind spots about every 10 seconds for any cars that might be entering those areas around you.
Be Mindful of Stopping Distances
Semi-trucks do not have a lot of space to safely stop—up to 200 yards, or the length of 2 football fields. Remaining mindful of this requirement means giving an adequate following distance, braking before you think it’s necessary, and not driving too quickly, especially when roads are wet or slick. Make sure you always have plenty of room to stop, even if the car ahead of you brakes suddenly. If someone moves over in front of you and is much closer than you think is safe, slow down and provide a greater following distance.
Make Wide Turns with Care
Even if you’ve never driven a bus or truck, you’ve probably seen the back stickers warning about the vehicle’s wide right turns. As a truck driver, you’ll need to give yourself extra space and time to make those right-hand turns. Make sure you have adequate space around you, as your trailer will likely swing out as you turn.
Inspect before You Drive
Finally, make sure that you complete a thorough, multi-point inspection before every trip you make. Your truck will be on the road for a long time, likely racking up thousands of miles a week. If you’re not confident in inspecting your truck yourself to ensure it’s in safe driving condition, take it to a mechanic before each trip.
If you’ve just obtained a CDL and want to start driving your deliveries, look for a semi-truck for sale, and be sure to follow these tips when you hit the road.