Our previous blog post discussed how to improve visibility tips, such as positioning mirrors and the proper use and maintenance of headlights, fog lights, and wipers. Today’s post explores even more ways to help improve your visibility as a truck driver, which in turn will exponentially increase your safety as well as the safety of those around you.
Have Regular Eye Exams
Whether or not you currently use corrective lenses of some kind, having regular eye exams is of particular importance for individuals who are frequently on the road. Truck drivers are prone to eye fatigue, which according to WebMD is the result of intense focusing or looking too long in one spot. To combat this, keep your eyes moving and scan your entire field of vision regularly.
If you have not updated your prescription in a while, now may be the time. As a driver, you need sharp, focused vision for close-up information gathering, as well as long-distance sight for sign reading and road watching. Consider purchasing prescription sunglasses for use during the day, and use eye drops if your eyes are prone to dryness. Staying well rested will help keep your eyes from being overly dry or drowsy, but also pay close attention to the listed side effects of prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Reduce Interior Lights and Distractions
Surviving long days on unfamiliar highways may require a GPS unit, but keep the screen’s brightness turned down. Interior lights can cause glares or stray reflections at night that can distract or confuse your vision. Your instrument panel and dash lights should be dimmed for the same reasons. The lights should be bright enough that you can still check your speed or mileage at a moment’s notice, but not so bright that they could be distracting or mistaken for something else. In addition, all electronic tools or units should be mounted so as to obstruct as little of your view as possible, such as through your windshield, mirrors, and side windows.
Similarly, limiting cell phone use in the cab is an excellent standard for any driver. Although you may often be on the phone while undergoing long road trips, be sure to hang up in any less-than-ideal road conditions. This includes inclement weather, fog, construction zones, and two-lane or non-divided highways. Some states have outlawed cell phone use behind the wheel, but even hands-free technology can be distracting. Hang up anytime you feel your surroundings need your full, undivided attention.
Being Mindful of Other Motorists
This tip is threefold, starting with your state of mind as you drive. On long trips, many drivers lose awareness of their surroundings because they begin to stare at a single point on the road or in the distance. It is possible to drive for many miles like this without incident, but losing mental focus on the road can easily lead to an accident. If our mind wanders while our eyes are locked, we are less likely to see potential road hazards until it is too late. Another example of this is how we often stare at the headlights of oncoming cars without realizing it. At night, these lights can be a dangerous distraction. The glare may distort your vision for a few moments, and the brightness will accelerate eye fatigue. Being continually aware of your surroundings and road conditions will help protect you and other drivers from accidents.
Another way you can be watchful of other motorists on the road is by maneuvering your vehicle with them in mind. Yes, your truck is much larger, and yes, they should see you and avoid crowding, but the truth is that many people you share the road with do not understand the amount of room and warning you need. Always use your turn signal and give plenty of warning before switching lanes. At the same time, take care that the signal is turned off after a successful lane change. Sometimes semis travel for miles with their turn signal on, which can confuse other drivers and make them less likely to realize when you actually intend to shift lanes again.
Finally, however, being mindful of other drivers does not mean pandering to them. Feel free to assume that other cars may switch lanes sporadically, hit their brakes suddenly, or trail along in your blind spot. Take special care as you maneuver through gas station parking lots and on exit ramps, when other vehicles may be more likely to try to dive in front of you. Anticipate their moves as much as possible: once you have driven long enough, you can point out the cars that are likely to weave through traffic or not accelerate properly on an on-ramp. Regularly scan your side mirrors and windows to improve the visibility and understanding of your surroundings.
Keep Your Cab Clean
As a truck driver, you will have to know how to deal with all types of weather conditions, including rain, snow, fog, and wind. Inclement weather, as well as simply driving into the sun, can wreak havoc on your visibility. You will learn to combat each of these with the proper use of headlights, fog lights, sunglasses, and more, but it is important to note that weather conditions can reduce your visibility in another way.
All types of weather can leave a filmy residue on your truck, from dust and pollen to snow and mud. Each of these can create a variety of problems, including streaky windshields that cause unwanted glares, cab hood residue that launches itself at the windshield, and mud that flies off onto other motorists’ vehicles. In addition, unsightly grime is unappealing and can leave a bad impression on anyone who sees it, from potential customers to competitors. Thankfully, Fleet Clean services include hand-brushed cleanings and full trailer washouts. Regular cleanings will keep your truck looking its best while ensuring you have clean, clear visibility. For more information or a free job quote, call 877-477-9274 or fill out our online contact form.