Fall is here and winter is coming soon. I thought this would be a good time to discuss proper preparation for a trip and offer a reminder about some professional driving tips.
Most of you already follow and comply with the following tips. However, there are still many drivers and owners who don’t -I see it every day -and this column is intended for them.
First, be sure to evaluate and plan your trip. Chart the shortest, most direct route. Identify any hazards you may encounter and determine the best time to travel.
Also give some thought to the amount of fuel required and the cheapest available place to fuel up.
F or long-distance hauls, consider the best time to load and reload and the best places to eat and sleep.
Check all your gear before heading out, including personal protective equipment and review the weather and road condition reports.
Make sure you have all relevant documents and paperwork and conduct a thorough pre-trip of your unit.
Whenever possible, travel in the right-hand lane. When passing slower-moving vehicles, move back over to the right-hand lane as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Don’t form a convoy of more than three trucks unless it’s under pilot escort or permit.
Also try to avoid travelling side by side other vehicles. Leave a gap so faster-moving vehicles can pass. This also prevents congestion. Don’t block or obstruct traffic flow or cause excess congestion.
Always pay attention to traffic light changes and pace yourself to minimize stopping and starting. Don’t ever roll the dice at a red or amber light.
When travelling on divided highways, move over to the second lane whenever possible to allow space for vehicles entering or exiting the highway.
When you pass a slower-moving vehicle, don’t cut back into the other lane until there’s enough room.
This includes making sure there’s enough space that you don’t obstruct their windshield with road spray from your tires.
Don’t tailgate. Leave a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you and you may need to double that distance during inclement weather or poor road conditions.
Be aware of vehicles that will consistently impede your safe travel distance while entering the “No Go Zone.” You will likely continue to readjust your safe travelling distance as other vehicles enter that zone.
When decelerating downhill, ensure you are in a gear that will hold your speed by engine or Jake brake so you don’t have to use your service brakes.
When decelerating downhill, you should never need to apply more than 10-20 lbs of brake pressure to slow down your unit. Otherwise, your brakes may be out of adjustment or you may have a defective braking system that needs immediate attention and should be corrected before you go any further.
When travelling downhill, use as few brake applications as possible to prevent brake fade and brake failure. The more you use them, the hotter and less effective your brakes become and then they may not be there when you need them.
When travelling on an expressway, travel in the centre lane to prevent traffic congestion from vehicles entering and exiting the freeway.
When passing stopped or disabled vehicles, or emergency vehicles, move over to the next lane when it’s safe to do so to give them some extra space.
You should also move over when passing roadside pull-offs and rest stops.
Don’t sleep in the brake check pull-offs -they are not rest areas.
Keep a 360-degree view around your vehicle at all times, including in your mirrors. Always be aware of traffic that surrounds your unit.
Watch out for police, emergency or fast-moving vehicles approaching from behind. Sometimes if you are not paying attention, they can sneak up on your with little notice.
As I said before, many of you are already following and complying with these suggestions.
But a reminder never hurts. And from what I see out there, there are still many drivers and owners who could definitely use a reminder.
Well, it’s the busy time of year for construction truckers, so I better get out there and haul a load to pay the bills. Catch you later.
-Ron Singer is owner of Ron Singer Truck Lines and president of the Alberta Construction Trucking Association. He can be reached at 403-244-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.ACTA’s Web site is www.myacta.ca.
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