Professional truck drivers share Thanksgiving driving tips

Nov. 22, 2016

The American Trucking Associations, ATA’s Share the Road highway safety program, and some of the industry’s best truck drivers reviewed potential life-saving driving tips to motorists ahead of what is being billed as one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

“With more families out on the road this week, we all need to take a few extra precautions in order to make sure we all get to the Thanksgiving dinner table safely,” said Share the Road professional truck driver Scott Woodrome, of FedEx Freight. “Many of the truck drivers you see on the highway this week are making last minute deliveries to grocery stores, giving folks one more chance to pick up everything they need to have an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.”

More than 48 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving weekend, according to AAA, making it one of the most heavily traveled weeks of the year. Added traffic volume can contribute to more risky driving conditions and motorists should be fully prepared for congestion and reduced speeds. Share the Road recently released the Share the Road Instructional Video in order to spread truck safety messages to the millions of motorists who will be driving alongside large trucks this week. The video, featuring professional truck drivers, gives an 8-minute recap of critical safe-driving habits and has already been viewed by thousands of motorists--including truck drivers and the general motoring public.

“The professional truck drivers in the Share the Road Instructional Video are highly-trained drivers who have accrued millions of accident-free miles. Based on overwhelming industry feedback, it’s evident to ATA that this video is already saving lives and we want to get the Share the Road message out to as many people as possible,” said Elisabeth Barna, ATA chief operating officer and executive vice-president of industry affairs. “Taking a few minutes to refresh your memory on important driving skills or sharing this video with a friend or colleague can make a major impact on safety this week.”

Deer hunting season is now in full swing throughout many parts of North America and deer are most active during the fall and winter seasons. Motorists must be fully aware when traveling on rural--and urban--roadways, especially during nighttime hours. Eliminating distractions gives drivers a better chance of making split-second decisions that could prove to be life-saving. Remember, when one deer is visible, there are oftentimes others nearby.

Winter driving presents many different challenges for motorists. High wind and blowing snow contribute to reduced visibility in many stretches of the Midwest. Similarly, freezing temperatures can have a profound impact on vehicles and the roadways. A thorough pre-trip inspection and understanding of driving conditions can play a significant role in driving success this holiday season. 

“Colder weather settled in this week and I expect it’s here to stay for the next few months,” said Share the Road professional truck driver John McKown, of UPS Freight. “In wintery conditions, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is prepared for extended trips. Check your wiper fluids, antifreeze, and pack a few extra blankets before you pull out of the driveway.”

Share the Road professional drivers recommend these safety tips to drivers, and would like to remind motorists about some key elements of safe driving, including how to operate small passenger vehicles near large tractor-trailers.

• Buckle Up: A seat belt will not prevent a collision, but it will save a life.

• Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to ensure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Don’t allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.

• Slow Down: Chances of a crash nearly triples when driving faster than surrounding traffic.

• Do not drive impaired: Driving is a great responsibility and your fellow travelers are relying on safe, attentive drivers to respectfully share the road and make good decisions.

• Be aware of truck blind spots: Trucks deliver your favorite Thanksgiving traditions--turkeys, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and all kinds of tasty pies--so make it easy on them by staying out of blind spots. Pass on the left where the truck’s blind spot is much smaller.

• Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents and one of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving.

• Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them. Fully loaded tractor-trailers can take the length of a football field plus both end zones to make a complete stop. Ask your favorite quarterback how far that is. Hint: it’s far.

• Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Before you head out to your aunts, uncles, and cousins, check your wipers and fluids and have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.

• Prepare yourself for long distance travel: The vehicle needs maintenance and the driver needs plenty of rest and hydration to function at his or her best. If the turkey is making you feel drowsy, pull over and wait until you are more alert.

• Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early to reduce anxiety about arriving late. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.

• Be aware of the vehicle in front of you: Leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead.