The summer months can be a stressful time for truck drivers. Busy roads, hot temperatures and abundant sun can create a few safety hazards for drivers when they hit the road. Fortunately, our summer driving safety tips for truck drivers will help deal with these hazards.
Following these summer driving safety tips for truck drivers will ensure that you stay safe when the summer season comes around:
These summer driving safety tips for truck drivers are fairly simple but will pay off when you start your route.
The first and most important of our summer safety tips that you need to follow is to stay hydrated. Just because you spend most of your time in the cab of your truck with the air conditioning on doesn’t mean that the heat can’t take its toll on you - especially if you're a truck driver that loads and unloads their freight.
When you’ve started your route, you need to be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the duration of your journey. Stock your cab up on bottles of water before you go out on the road and anytime you start to run low while you’re out on your journey.
While water is always a good option, there are plenty of energy drinks that will keep you hydrated and provide you with plenty of vigor. The thing with energy drinks is that you will need to be cautious about which brands you consume and how many you drink.
Energy drinks typically contain extremely high amounts of sugar and caffeine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people should consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, otherwise they are likely to feel adverse side effects.
That means if you do want to consume energy drinks while you're out on the road, you shouldn’t drink too many. Therefore, you should supplement energy drinks with water as well.
Natural energy drinks are the best to consume because they contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than the other brands. They also retain the same great taste that less healthy energy drinks have.
Some good energy drink brands to try are:
Check out our article on the best 12-volt coolers for truckers so you can keep your water bottles and energy drinks at a cool and refreshing temperature.
Every truck driver knows how important it is to keep their truck healthy, regardless of what time of the year it is. However, the summer heat will have more of a negative impact on certain parts of your semi than it will any other time during the year.
You should follow this checklist to avoid suffering mechanical issues when you’re out on the road:
Tires are just one part of your truck that will be adversely affected by hot temperatures. For one, the surface temperature of roads will be even hotter than usual. Hot road temperatures will make tires wear down more quickly than usual.
Hot temperatures will overinflate your tires and potentially cause a tire blowout. Every time the air temperature rises by 10-degrees, the pressure in your semi tires will increase by 1 PSI.
During the summer, you should start paying more attention to the health of your tires than you normally would. And don’t forget to replace them when the time comes!
The summer heat will also take a toll on your brakes. If your brakes become overheated, they might not function as well as they normally would. This will put you and other drivers on the road in danger.
A side-effect of overheated brakes is something called “brake fade.” When this happens, you won’t be able to slow or stop your semi with the same amount of pressure that you’ve applied on your brakes before. Your brake fluid can heat up as the temperature rises which will result in overheating and loss of friction.
You can prevent your brakes from overheating by completing a routine check before you get on the road. When you start driving and need to come to a stop, start applying pressure on your brakes well in advance. A gradual deceleration will reduce the amount of heat your brakes will absorb.
Your engine coolant is especially important during the summer months. You can check the amount of coolant you have before you get on the road. This will allow you to keep better track of where your coolant levels are at and can help you determine if more coolant needs to be added.
Another important item to check is your radiator cap. If your radiator cap is damaged, it could prevent the engine coolant from working efficiently. When you’re out on the road you can monitor your coolant levels by using the coolant temperature gauge.
Lastly, engine belts and hoses will wear down faster in extreme heat. If either of these parts break, it could result in your engine overheating and/or engine failure. When you inspect these parts, look for cracks and other signs that indicate the parts have been worn down.
One thing that you can count on when summer rolls around is an increase in bugs. As you head out on your route, you will start to notice them splattering on your windshield. Although there probably won’t be enough to completely obstruct your view, you’ll accumulate just enough on your windshield to annoy you.
Keeping a clear line of sight while you're on the road is supremely important for safety. When you start to notice the bugs piling up your windshield, you should get it cleaned before it gets any worse.
Another feature of the summer season that will affect how truck drivers operate on the roads is rain. During the summer months, rainfall will start to become more common.
Rain and wet roads can create numerous safety hazards for truck drivers. Practicing safe driving techniques is the best thing you can do to keep yourself safe. These techniques will make driving in the rain and on wet roads a little safer:
Focus is key when you're driving through a storm. Even the most minor of distractions, like the sound coming from your radio, could be a distraction. When you're in rainy conditions, your focus should be directly on driving.
Whether you're speeding up or slowing down, you should always give yourself plenty of time to reduce or increase speed. Wet roads will be slippery which will reduce the amount of traction that your tires can get.
Driving below the speed limit can be unsafe because you won’t be moving with the flow of traffic. However, if it’s raining hard enough, it’s the safest thing that you can do. Heavy amounts of rain paired with driving at high speeds can reduce your visibility.
Additionally, if it’s raining hard enough to cause you to slow down, then the same is likely for other drivers on the road. This means you will have to slow down with the flow of traffic regardless.
If slowing down isn’t enough to make driving in the rain a little bit safer, then your next best option is to go ahead and pull into a rest stop or to the side of the road. Rest stops are safer to stop at but you could be caught in a storm on a stretch of road where none are nearby.
In this case, you should turn on your hazard lights and pull off to the side of the road enough to where you won’t be in the way of other vehicles.
For more info on driving in rainy weather, check out our article on Rainy Weather Safety Tips for Truckers.
Sunglasses are an item that is easy to forget but is extremely useful. When you’re trucking during the summer, your eyes will be absorbing a lot of light. During your long hours of driving you will be absorbing that light. Squinting as you go down the road will only exhaust your eyes.
Sunglasses will reduce the amount of light your eyes take in which will prevent them from getting exhausted. There are various kinds of sunglasses that you can use but polarized glasses are a popular option.
The lenses of polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes and provide a clear view. Polarized sunglasses are also a great solution if you find yourself squinting when you use other brands of sunglasses.
There are plenty of other useful items that truck drivers can use throughout the year. Our article on accessories for truck drivers will be able to help you figure out what you need.
If your eyes will be exposed to the sun while you're trucking during the summer, so will your skin. Even from the safety of your cab, your arms and face will still be absorbing the sunlight through your window. Truck drivers who load and unload their freight will be at even more risk when they leave their trucks.
Taking in too much sun can burn your skin and even make you feel sick. Wearing sunscreen will help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays for hours on end.
Thanks to the holidays, vacations and sporting events that happen during the summer months, roads tend to be congested and busy. When you find yourself on a congested roadway, you should use some of the same safe driving techniques you would use in rainy weather.
Keeping distance between you and the vehicles in front and behind will give you plenty of reaction time when you have to slow down. Other drivers on the road might be driving recklessly in all the traffic. By having space between you and other vehicles to work with, you will be allowed more reaction time in case another driver swerves or performs another careless maneuver.
Dressing according to the hot summer temperatures is essential to staying comfortable and hydrated. That said, you should still dress appropriately, especially if there’s a chance that you will have to interact with customers.
Some practical and appropriate clothing that you can wear are a clean short sleeve shirt, jeans, or a pair of cargo shorts. You can even throw a hat into the mix to give your face some added protection from the sun.
It goes without saying that the right clothes are a must for truck drivers. For other truck driver essentials, check out our article to learn what else you need with you out on the road.
The heat has a way of putting people into a bad mood. Add that to waiting to be loaded/unloaded and putting up with traffic and you’ll find yourself pretty stressed out.
One great and easy way to keep your cool when you’re behind the wheel is to take some deep breaths. Stress can also make the rest of your body tense. Whenever you stop at a rest stop or even while you're waiting to be loaded/unloaded, take the time to enjoy the fresh air and do some stretches.
Our article on how to handle road rage will give you more tips that will help keep your stress levels low.
Sleep is an important part of being a truck driver. Operating a large vehicle with an even larger trailer being pulled behind it requires focus. The summer heat can have a very exhausting impact on you, even if you have been staying hydrated. Taking the time to rest and get a full night’s sleep will be just as important as ever.
When you work for ABCO, you will be working for a company that truly cares about you. With a starting salary of no less than $67,000, there's plenty of room to grow and earn the longer you work with us.
We also understand how long truck drivers spend away from their friends and families. That’s why we give our truckers flexible schedules and plenty of time to come and recuperate from their journeys. Our drivers also enjoy steady work and great equipment to complete their job with.
Start your journey down the road to working with a trucking company that cares about you by filling out your ABCO application.