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Safety & Life on the Road

Staying Safe on the Road

It's important to know how you can drive safely on the road, especially when it's your job. One way to stay safe on the road is to always wear your seat belt correctly. If you choose to not buckle up, your chances of being killed are almost 25 times higher than for those who do use their seat belts. Being a good driver should never be an excuse to not wear your seat belt. There can always be bad weather, bad drivers, mechanical failure, or a tire blowout. To learn more about why buckling up is important, visit FMCSA's CMV Driving Tips - Failure to Buckle Up webpage.

Whether you're new to the trucking industry or you're not, safety should always be your top priority. provides many tips on how to stay safe while driving.

  • Pay attention to parking. Find a safe place to park to help ensure that your vehicle is not damaged or broken into.
  • Plan your trip. Having a general idea of what exits and routes you will use means you can cut back on confusion and lost time on the road.
  • Secure your vehicle. When parked, whether you're in your truck or not, always keep your windows rolled up and your doors locked. This will help to protect you and your belongings.
  • Maintain a safe stopping distance. By maintaining a safe following distance, you will have more time to react and avoid a collision.
  • Stay in your lane. Make sure to check your mirrors as much as possible and try to stay in your lane unless moving is the only option.

Highway hypnosis is a trance-like mental state in which a person can drive a vehicle normally for long distances without any recollection of doing it. Driving in this state can lead to slower reaction times and preventable crashes and near crashes. provides great ways to stay alert and avoid highway hypnosis.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking water regularly can help increase brain function and boost your energy levels.
  • Eat Healthy Snacks: Snacking on junk food, which contains large amounts of sugar, salt, and fat, can make you tire out quickly. Eat healthier snacks in order to have energy for hours at a time.
  • Use Eye Drops: This prevents your eyes from drying out when driving for long periods of time.
  • Open the Windows or Use AC: Colder air helps to keep you awake when driving. The warmer your cab is, the more likely it is to fall asleep or to experience highway hypnosis.
  • Play Music: Try to stick to upbeat music to keep your mind awake and alert when driving.
  • Take Breaks: Let your body and mind rest, get enough rest, and take advantage of rest stops when you see one.

Living on the Road

Being unprepared on the road may cause problems that you don't have time for. If you need help packing, CDL Training Today prepared some tips for truck drivers to use.

  • Pack Lightly: Due to limited space, you may feel cramped if you overpack. Only pack the essentials.
  • Clothing: Before you leave, check the weather for where you are going. Bring extra clothes in case the clothes you have get dirty. If your trip is three days long, try bringing five days' worth of clothing and always bring extra socks and underwear. A hoodie and rain gear are smart to bring as well.
  • Cooking: Bring water bottles, healthy snacks, and even a mini fridge and microwave to keep in your cab!
  • Personal Hygiene: Pack shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, deodorant, and any other personal hygiene products.
  • Miscellaneous Items: Items such as a flashlight, laundry detergent, and dryer sheets are important to have when living on the road.

Families on the Road

Many carriers allow family members to ride along on trips. Ask your carrier what rider policies they have and what you need to do to get one. Most of these are free and may require you to complete your initial training period or drive for the company for 6 months or more. These rules are usually based on the company's insurance policy so if you are an owner-operator, or simply own your own truck, so you may be able to travel or recruit employees more easily with a rider policy. Be sure to ask the fleet that you want to work for about this policy up front, especially if it is a deal-breaker for your employment there.

Knowing Your Rights

It's important to only drive safe equipment. If you find that your company's vehicle has a safety problem, Teamsters for a Democratic Union informs us to make sure to:

  • Report it and ask the company to fix the problem.
  • Be specific about the problem: include the regulation that is being violated and why you believe it is a safety hazard.
  • Have a witness when telling the company about the safety concern.
  • Document the problem: take pictures of the problem when you can and make sure to show them to a witness.
  • Keep a paper trail: take notes on exactly what happened right after the incident occurred.

Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections

It's important to check your vehicle before and after you take a trip. By doing a pre-trip inspection, you can help prevent an incident or accident from occurring. By doing a post-trip inspection, delays can be prevented, you can be assured that problems are reported, and you can catch potential violations.

To learn more about the importance of pre- and post-trip inspections, read these tips from Fleet Owner.

Whip Around provides information on post-trip inspections and improving your inspection process.

Physical Safety

It is important to find a safe place to park, especially when sleeping. Finding safe places to park can minimize cargo theft, personal theft, and keep you safe. Some tips for staying safe overnight are:

  • Verifying that where you are allows parking
  • Park near other drivers
  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Carry protective devices, such as pepper spray
  • Choose pull-through parking in order to leave quickly in case of any emergency
  • Lock your truck, windows, and trailer whenever leaving your truck or going to sleep in your truck
  • If possible, bring a pet (check with your company to see if they allow it) • Make sure your phone is charged
  • Report suspicious activity
  • Scan the area before getting out of your vehicle
  • Additional safety tip for women:
    • Be sure to use the bathroom, shower, and stretch your legs at a safe, well-lit location that is different from where you plan on sleeping to avoid needing to leave your cab during the night.

P Fleet provides a list of 12 apps that can help you locate free, semi-truck parking.

For additional safe sleeping tips, learn more from Landstar Agent.

Protect yourself by taking self-defense or rape-defense classes such as those offered by R.A.D. Find an R.A.D. program near you.

Prioritize your safety on the road even when you are not sleeping. Here are some additional tips to stay safe when traveling.

  • Stay vigilant
  • Know the upcoming stops and try to avoid sketchy rest stops with no amenities
  • Wear reflective gear when outside the truck
  • If driving alone, call back into the truck “Hey, do you want a Gatorade, too?” to let people think you have a co-driver
  • Always carry a flashlight, preferable a good-sized one
  • Don't look at your phone while walking through parking lots

Showering and Doing Laundry on the Road

Personal hygiene is important not only for your physical health, but also for your mental health. Make sure to stay clean by taking showers and doing laundry (if needed) on the road.

Showering on the road can get expensive, so earn free shower credits by purchasing a rewards card! Rewards cards often work by providing you with points or shower credits whenever you buy fuel. There may be times when you do not have access to a shower. Here are some of Prime Inc.'s recommended items to keep with you on the road that can help you stay clean:

  • Bottled water
  • Baby wipes
  • Small mirror
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dry shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Micellar water
  • Washcloths
  • Extra clothes

There may be times when you need to do your laundry on the road. Check out Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips for doing laundry on the road, including what type of laundry bags and bins to bring, and where you can do your laundry! Often, your choices may be limited to where you can park your truck, but some options of where you can wash and dry laundry include:

  • At a truck stop
  • At a commercial laundry facility
  • At the home of a friend in the area

First time on the road and not sure what to pack? Use this great checklist provided on the Real Women in Trucking website that you can print out or save on your phone! The list includes information on what to pack when traveling long- and short-haul and includes personal items, clothing, safety clothing, electronics, food, and additional items.

Additional Tips for a New Truck Driver

Starting a career as a truck driver can be difficult, which is why CDL Training Spot shared some tips for new drivers, which include:

  • Eat healthy
  • Get a hobby
  • Get a good GPS
  • Get a heated blanket
  • Don't drive fast
Click here to read more tips for new drivers! For some more tips, check out Real Women in Trucking's frequently asked questions.