The Big Three = Awareness

Topic 5446 | Page 1

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6 string rhythm's Comment
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I've been solo now for a very short time, coming up on about a month and a half. But I've noticed that there are 3 big things to practice while driving, and it all boils down to awareness. These three things should be practiced by the rookie as well as experienced driver. If an experienced driver has become complacent and unsafe, usually they are not practicing two of these three things anymore, and that will lead to accidents. Usually, when mentioning to an experienced driver that I'm a rookie, they'll usually offer up some advice covering at least one of these three things. Most often, it's the "check your mirrors".

1. Always manage your space - especially by keeping a safe following distance.

Not only is this extremely dangerous, when a driver tailgates another vehicle, but it is also a serious traffic violation if an officer chooses to write you up. You wouldn't believe how many drivers I see tailgating a four wheeler or another tractor trailer. These drivers are not only risking the lives of other motorists, they're basically putting their own lives and career in the hands of somebody else in front of them.

2. Always scan your mirrors frequently.

The only way you can know what's going on around you. Sounds obvious, but it's easy to forget to scan those mirrors when you're 'busy' driving.

3. Read EVERY sign, all of them, all the time.

Not only for directional purposes, but for safety. I was talking w/ another driver about this a few days ago. How will you know where you are if broken down and need help, or if you're at the scene of an accident, and you don't pay attention to mile markers?

There is so much that goes with driving a big rig and safety, like the pre-trip, getting proper rest, adjusting your driving to traffic and / or weather conditions, but so much of it boils down to awareness. It's easy to flip on the radio and just cruise. But the professional driver isn't just a Sunday driver. We are responsible for our safety and the safety of those around us. It's part of our job.

These three practices summarize awareness for me. They should become second nature - I'm still working on that. It never ceases to amaze me how many drivers do not properly manage their space, especially experienced drivers that should know better. They're playing Russian Roulette. I've actually had trainers try to teach me to not allow a gap, just because other drivers will jump in front .. so what? Their argument that if you allow other drivers to continually jump in front of you is pretty silly. You are not gaining much by not allowing a cushion in front - in fact, you're potentially setting yourself up to lose everything.

In my short time, I've been driving long enough to know that speeding or not allowing somebody to sneak in front of you will really not get you anywhere that much faster, especially when considering the risk. For me, it's actually a lot less stressful while driving through traffic to not jockey for position or try to ride the bumper of the vehicle in front of you, just so you can 'maintain' your position. I continually adjust to allow that cushion in front of me, enough of a cushion to be able to come to a sudden stop, and honestly I've never seen this practice have an adverse effect on my arrival time.

So, just my 3 cents. I learn every day, and will continue to do so for the rest of my career - at least that's the goal. Just thought I'd share what might already seem common knowledge, but for some reason, is not practiced by a great many of drivers, including those that should know better. There is nothing more infuriating to me than to see a big rig come down on a four wheeler, trying to bully it out of the way. I get more upset when it happens to other drivers. If somebody tries to tailgate me, I shrug it off. Keep this in mind if you're ever tempted to tailgate a four wheeler - would you appreciate it if another 'professional' driver did that to your loved one?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

James R.'s Comment
member avatar

Right with you brother. I possessed these skills and practices before driving a truck, it's one of the reasons i thought i'd be suitable for it.

Weatherman's Comment
member avatar

Been driving about the same amount of time as six string and he is spot on. Keeping proper distance and speed are huge as new drivers are going has slower reaction time and make some mistakes. A big things I had to realize is there is never a good reason to be in a rush while driving. Even if you get a run with a very tight (or unmakable) timeline, other than sticking to your 10 hour break and not making too many stops along the way you really have little control on when you are going to arrive at your destination. The best advice I can give so far is to be calm, focus on your driving, and try to get better each day.

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