The economy is slowing down, but the trucking industry is trucking on. More than 3.5 million Americans are truck drivers, including flatbed drivers.
Truck driving lets you see different parts of the country while living a comfortable life. But it doesn’t mean you can sit behind a wheel idly. You must employ several good driving techniques.
What is good defensive driving for flatbed drivers? How can you keep your goods safe on your flatbed? What do you need during inclement weather or nighttime hours?
Answer these questions and you can become one of many flatbed drivers for hire. Here is your quick guide.
Adopt Defensive Driving Techniques
Don’t overthink defensive driving. You need to leave plenty of room around yourself and other vehicles.
This is especially important when driving a flatbed truck, which is very heavy. A truck that is 80,000 pounds traveling at 65 miles per hour requires 525 feet to stop. That’s nearly twice the distance that an average passenger vehicle needs to stop.
You should signal every turn you make, even if you are changing lanes. Use your lights, but also gesture with your hands through your car window. Angle your mirrors and turn your head to look at the adjoining lanes to make sure no one is too close.
You should never speed, even if no one is around your vehicle. But you need to go even slower than the speed limit.
The speed signs you see on exit ramps are for cars, not trucks. You should drop your speed significantly and execute your turn with a fluid motion. You may hold up traffic, but you will avoid tilting over.
Federal law requires that truck drivers take one 30-minute break after driving for eight hours without a 30-minute interruption. You can pull your truck over, or you can switch off with another driver.
You cannot drive for longer than 11 hours straight. You must take a break for ten consecutive hours, which you can use to sleep and eat meals.
Follow these regulations without any deviation. They are designed to keep you wakeful and attentive to the road. If you fall asleep for a second, you risk getting into a serious accident.
Your supervisor should be familiar with the parameters of truck driving careers. If they insist that you work in violation of federal policy, you should report them to the Department of Transportation.
Secure Your Loads
Do not move any load that is unsecured to your flatbed. Use chains and straps to keep a load down. When in doubt, add another one.
You need a minimum of one chain for every 10,000 pounds. Keep a few extra chains on hand if you plan on loading more materials onto your flatbed.
After an hour of driving, pull over to make sure your loads are secure. Add additional chains or shift things around your bed to make sure nothing slides off.
Have Personal Protective Equipment With You
You should keep a reflective vest, a hard hat, and safety goggles with you at all times. Whenever you go to check on your flatbed, you should put your gear on. This may take a little time, but it keeps you safe from shifting items.
Maintain Your Tools
Replace your hard hat or safety glasses when they start wearing down. Do not wear scratched glasses while you are walking around your rig. You risk missing little details or being unable to see road debris.
Make sure your tarp does not have holes in it. Your chains should also be taut and resistant to bumps in the road and heavy loads.
Switch out your tarp or chains whenever you are concerned about them. You can ask flatbed team drivers for spares.
Be Mindful of the Weather
When it is raining, you need to slow your truck down. Wet roads make it harder to break or execute smooth turns. You should have a tarp over your load that covers all materials.
When it is snowing, you encounter the same problems with decreased visibility. Turn on your headlights, but try to avoid blinding drivers coming from the opposite direction.
Be Careful at Night
Try to avoid driving at night whenever possible. Drive for 11 hours during the day, then pull over at a rest stop and keep off the road until sunrise.
If you must drive while it is dark out, turn your lights on and be mindful of other drivers. Reduce your speed and read road signs carefully so you know where the road turns. Get training from the best flatbed companies for new drivers so you can drive safely at night.
Many drivers go out at night because there are fewer people on the road. This is a good way to avoid traffic, but there are better ways to do so.
Talk to other drivers and see what the most congested roadways are. Take backroads away from commercial centers and high-volume residential areas.
Investigate Your Delivery Spots
Before you pull into a delivery location, pull your truck over and step out of your vehicle. See where you will offload your products and then exit with your truck.
Your truck can become trapped, or you may have a difficult turn to execute. In some cases, a docking facility may not be able to accommodate your vehicle. Work with a docking employee and devise a way you can offload and get your vehicle out.
What Flatbed Drivers Should Do
Flatbed drivers should take driving seriously. They should abide by standard defensive driving practices, including operating below the speed limit.
Take a break for at least 30 minutes after eight hours of non-stop driving. You should also pull over to make sure your loads are secure on your flatbed.
Maintain all of your tools, including personal protective equipment. Avoid driving in the rain or at night, but you can be safe if you use your lights.
You can start your career today. Kaiser Transport is recruiting drivers from all across the country. Fill out your application form here.