There are almost 400 000 registered trucks on South Africa’s roads and about 10 million vehicles in total. With the increasing numbers of road accidents and hijackings, safety is becoming an increasing issue not only for everyday road users but for our cargo drivers too.
Transport companies should have safety rules implemented for their long-haul cargo drivers and if they don’t, as a cargo driver, you should approach your manager and insist that they do. Here are 10 tips on how you can be safe and stay safe on the road.
Load your cargo carefully
This might not sound like a driving safety tip, but this is a very important safety tip that you need to remember. There are some heavy cargo drivers that need to load their cargo themselves. To be able to make sure that your cargo isn’t going to be a safety issue for you and other road users, you need to make sure that your cargo is loaded correctly and secure. Learn and research all the things that you can possibly need to tie down your cargo and secure it tightly.
Doing ‘final checks’ matter
We are constantly hearing of trucks or heavyweight vehicles causing accidents because of brake failure or a tyre that burst. It is all because they don’t do final inspections before they go on the road with heavy loads. Doing a final inspection on the truck vehicle before you hit the road can be the difference between life and death.
Know the rules of the road
This may seem like an obvious thing to do as a driver of any vehicle, but it still needs to be reinforced. Don’t ignore the basic rules of the road and take unnecessary chances. As the driver of a cargo heavy-weight or truck vehicle, you have ‘on-the-road’ specified instructions. You have certain lanes you are required to stick to, a speed limit for these specific lanes, as well as weight and height restrictions for certain areas. Adhering to the rules of the road can help ensure safe travels.
A large vehicle doesn’t mean “indestructible”
Some cargo drivers tend to be overconfident on the road. They seem to think that because they are driving the largest vehicle on the road, it’s somehow indestructible. That is simply not true. Strong winds are more likely to tip your truck over, more so than a light motor vehicle, and if you take a corner incorrectly, you’ll end up tipping over. Remember, being cautious is good for long-distance driving.
Map out the way forward
When preparing for your long-distance trip, you need to start by mapping out the way forward, especially if you haven’t been on those roads before. Do some research about the speed limits, distance from one fill-up point to the next, local weather conditions, and if there are any road construction areas or anything you need to be aware of. It’s always best to know what to expect and be prepared, no matter where you are going.
Be prepared for a breakdown
Trucks tend to break down and you need to make sure that you are as prepared for it as possible. Make sure you have spare tyres available, warning or emergency triangles, water, oil, and some general truck-engine knowledge.
Take care of yourself
You are the driver and your well-being is incredibly important for your job. Being alert and awake is an essential part of your job and driving long-distances becomes tedious and exhausting. For that reason, it’s important to take care of yourself on the road. This includes having snacks for the road to keep your energy levels up, pre-booking your stopover accommodation and driving comfortably.
Only stop in designated rest areas where there are other trucks parked.
Never just stop your vehicle anywhere. Designated parking areas are equipped with surveillance cameras and safety precaution measures to make sure that drivers and their trucks are safe. Don’t risk your safety and the safety of the cargo you are transporting by just stopping anywhere.
Always carry a 24-hour emergency telephone number.
It is your responsibility as a driver to be mindful of yourself and the journey ahead. If you encounter any problems whilst on the road or sense that you are being followed, make sure to contact your manager immediately and inform them of your situation, safety, and current location. This way, not only will you feel safer, but in the case that something does happen, help will get to you sooner.
There is safety in motion.
The most dangerous times for hijacking on the road, especially for large cargo trucks are when your vehicle is stopped. In stating this, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stop anywhere whilst on your journey, you just need to be mindful of where you stop.