The great state of Missouri has a long and proud history of trucking. This is mainly due to its central location and extensive transportation infrastructure.
The state’s extensive network of highways and interstates, including Interstates 70, 44, and 55, makes it a major transportation hub for the Midwest region.
The life of a trucker is not an easy one, however, it can be a lucrative one if you know what you are doing. In this article, we will provide three useful tips to stay safe, that you as a new truck driver can benefit from.
1. Prioritize Safety Always
As a new driver, you may feel that you need to impress and please your employer. There’s nothing wrong with that. Every trucker should be proud of doing a good job.
However, you should never make the mistake of letting someone rush you. Trucking is not a safe field. If anything untoward were to happen, you and only you will be responsible for your safety.
So, if your boss calls you and needs your mini truck immediately on site; yes, do your job. However, don’t rush. You will get there when you get there. Trucking companies are heavily insured, and your life is more valuable than any ‘emergency’ they might have.
Missouri has a lot of dangerous weather conditions, it seems like there is always work, and active construction happening all the time on the highways. Not paying attention to such factors is a surefire way to crash your truck, and cause serious damage to your cargo.
2. Dealing With Pressure, Preparation, and Personal Care is Key
Similarly, don’t be pressurized into running unsafe equipment or dangerous jobs. Identify what you are comfortable doing, and make it a point not to cross your own boundaries. Threats and bonuses hold no relevance if you are injured or worse from trying to take up a job that you aren’t qualified for or comfortable with.
If you drive your own truck, ensure that the first thing you do is get a solid insurance policy. It may be unsettling to hear but accidents happen, and they happen a lot more than you would think.
Most cities in Missouri have a number of qualified law firms. It should be fairly straightforward to find a policy that has your back. This will be critical if those affected by the crash decide to hire a good truck accident attorney in St. Louis and come after you.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, about 15,005 truck accidents occurred in 2022. These accidents were responsible for the injuries of 2,756 people, and the lives of 119 others. St. Louis topped the list with the most number of crashes, at 2462 last year.
With such concerning statistics, it is clear that caution and proper insurance coverage (both for you and the other party) will be of the utmost importance.
According to TorHoerman Law, a single truck accident can set you back $91,000. This isn’t a small sum by any means. If someone was killed in the crash, you are looking at around $3,600,000 in damages and payouts. It becomes obvious that this would deal a massive blow to your career.
The sad part is that accidents can often be avoided by doing thorough pre-trip checks.
For instance, you don’t want to be one of those truckers that simply kick their tires to check the pressure. Instead, get yourself a tire pressure gauge. If you are 10 psi under 100 or 110 (whatever the recommended pressure is), the Department of Transportation (DoT) can come down hard on you.
On another note, do not be someone that neglects their basic needs to live up to unrealistic delivery times and expectations. Ensure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep every day, three hot meals, and enough time to exercise and stay fit.
3. Plan Your Route With Satellite and Street View
The next thing you want to remember is that pre-planning will be your most useful skill. You may feel a little overwhelmed at first, but with each trip, you will slowly get the hang of things.
Most truck drivers give special reverence to the satellite view on google maps. Blindly trusting your GPS is a rookie mistake. Take a look at the terrain you will have to cover. What are the entrances and exits like?
Use Streetview to look at whether any turns will give you trouble. The last thing you want is to find yourself causing a traffic jam and lose precious time because you didn’t scout and plan the route properly.
Many truck drivers will also advise you to plan your route based on the delivery time instead of distance. Sure, you can find a route that reduces your trip by a hundred miles, but take a closer look.
Often, a shorter route will run through smaller towns, which have reduced speed limits. On the contrary, a slightly longer route, which allows you to cruise at a higher top speed is almost always going to be the better choice.
Another useful tip when planning your route is to watch out for roads that end with the word “run”. These roads usually go by creeks and streams and aren’t built to handle heavy trucks. They are often narrow, and poorly maintained since they were originally built with horse and buggy traffic in mind.
While these roads are more common in the North East and not so much in Missouri, you will still come across them from time to time.
The trucking industry forms the backbone of our country. Sadly, the general public has little awareness of the crucial role that truckers play in the economy.
They are often looked down on due to misconceptions and stereotypes. People tend to view them as inconsiderate drivers on the road despite most truckers being dedicated professionals.
The next time you see a trucker, remember that they are one of the most hard-working people out there. Traveling hundreds of kilometers every day while hauling heavy loads is not easy.
If you are a new trucker, be prepared for it to be stressful initially. However, keep a level head, stick to your guns and you can make trucking a fruitful career.