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In the commercial transportation industry, late spring and early summer are particularly hectic. Produce shipping reaches its peak, group transportation for special events becomes more frequent and tourism demands rise. Traffic volumes also increase as families embark on road trips, raising the risk of accidents for professional drivers during this busy season.

As a commercial driver, you can help manage these driving challenges, regardless of how busy the season may be, by taking some simple precautions:

  • Get more rest. While you may legally be operating within hours-of-service regulations, changes in schedules and new routes during the busy season mean that you may be cheating yourself of sleep and, consequently, increasing the risk of fatigue. Ensure you get proper sleep before driving, and take frequent breaks along the way to stay refreshed.

  • Properly perform vehicle checks. Pre- and post-trip inspections are required by federal regulations and are crucial for safe driving. They are also the best ways to spot mechanical problems before they lead to breakdowns, costly repairs and delays. Don’t rush or skip these vehicle checks because you are stressed from the busy season, want to get a jump on traffic or have never had issues in the past.

  • Plan your route carefully. To minimize risks, save time and reduce stress, it is essential to plan your route in advance. Use traffic websites, radio reports, GPS and navigational apps to steer clear of congestion, restricted roads and hazards. Just be sure the GPS device and apps are designed for commercial vehicles and equipped with the latest maps and software. Also, plan your stops to be as safe as possible, and stay updated on weather conditions. Avoid peak traffic hours whenever possible.

  • Step up your personal maintenance. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital for maintaining energy and concentration levels any time of year, but especially during the busy season. Keep water, hydration beverages and healthy snacks in your vehicle. Eat well-balanced meals, including breakfast. In addition, wear polarized sunglasses while driving to reduce glare and the effects of eye fatigue.

  • Eliminate distractions. Longer and warmer days this time of year lead to an increase in pedestrians, bicyclists and road construction activities, creating additional hazards for drivers. Stay focused behind the wheel by finishing eating, securing loose items and setting up your vehicle’s controls before departing. Importantly, pull over safely to text or make phone calls, in accordance with federal regulations.

  • Drive defensively. Defensive driving enhances road safety by anticipating and mitigating potential hazards. Scan ahead to see the “big picture,” and use your mirrors frequently to stay aware of what’s happening to your sides and behind you. A helpful tip is to "lean in and look" when checking your mirrors, which can improve your visibility of any activity in your vehicle's blind spots. Adjust your speed and following distance as needed to respond effectively to sudden hazards or unexpected actions from other drivers. Additionally, signal maneuvers well in advance to help other motorists anticipate your movements.

  • Adapt to changing weather conditions. Rain and thunderstorms often pop up in late spring and early summer. When they do, turn on headlights to improve invisibility, slow down to increase traction and add more space around your vehicle to allow sufficient time to stop. Avoid sudden braking to prevent skidding or hydroplaning.

  • Stay calm and drive courteously. Set an example for other motorists. Be patient, obey the rules of the road, give way when necessary, and avoid letting aggressive drivers negatively influence you. Ultimately, the goal is not just to reach your destination, but to do so safely and efficiently.


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