Managing your long-haul drives

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Managing your long-haul drives

There are so many variables that ensure that you’re staying safe on the roads, it’s all about being vigilant before, during, and after your drive. Checking your vehicle before departure, avoiding driver fatigue, and practising low-risk driving are all helpful in making sure you have a safe and comfortable drive and get home at the end of every day. 

Pre-departure checks are essential
Pre-departure checks will help prevent unexpected troubles and increase safety on the road. Your check should include the engine compartment for oil, water, and all other fluid levels and leaks, as well as fan belt condition and tension. Lights are important safety features, so do a general check over of your vehicle to make sure all headlights, brakes, tail, clearance and indicator lights are all working. Check that the brake pedal feels normal and that when applied, the vehicle stops up as expected and without pulling to the side. Tyre pressures and tread wear is also a daily must, as too that your windshield wipers are in working order and the rubbers blades not perished. Ensure that you always have Safety Warning Triangles on hand in case of an unavoidable breakdown. Lastly, make sure your registration and insurance are up to date and not expired.

Avoiding driver fatigue
Driver fatigue is the number one cause of heavy vehicle crashes, which makes fatigue prevention an absolute must. Familiarise yourself with the warning signs, such as yawning, over steering, restlessness, drowsiness, tired eyes, slow reaction, and poor concentration. If you feel any of these symptoms as you’re driving, it’s time to pull over and rest. Getting adequate rest will help prevent fatigue, especially during long journeys. Ensure you’re taking more breaks the longer you drive. At least 15 minutes of rest is mandatory after 6.0 hours of driving, and at least 30 minutes after 8.5 hours. Remember, the more exhausted you let yourself get, the less efficient your recovery time will be.

Staying healthy will help you also combat driver fatigue, feeling your best to drive your best. Doing regular exercise, eating the right foods and staying hydrated with water rather than soft drinks will all help with minimising driver fatigue. After your drive, take note of how much you’ve slept and reserve some time to rest and relax. 

Responsibility is not just on you
Preventing driver fatigue is not only the responsibility of the driver but rather the entire chain of responsibility. This chain includes parties like contractors, schedulers, and loading managers. Everyone should take the necessary steps to prevent driver fatigue to keep everyone safe on the road.

Practice low-risk driving
There’s always risk on the road, but following low-risk protocols will help you drive more safely. Low-risk driving includes being alert, observant, and in control of your vehicle. Be on the lookout for potential hazards as you drive, slow down on wet or icy roads, and always drive within the speed limits to allow for unexpected stops. It also pays to plan your route ahead to familiarise yourself with the roads and avoid heavy traffic.

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