What does it take to be safe on the road?
Is it being aware of your surroundings? Never speeding? Regular rest stops? Maintaining a safe distance from vehicles around you? What if it was all these, and more… As a truck driver, you’re handling a vehicle significantly longer, larger, and heavier than others on the road. So, you need to be ultra-alert to ensure you, and other road users, make it home safe.
The state of truck safety in Australia
Before we get into it, let’s look at some of the statistics from the NTI NTARC 2022 report.
Since the inaugural report back in 2005:
- Fatigue and inappropriate speed have reduced from being responsible for over 57% of serious truck crashes to under 21% as of the 2022 report.
- 2008 saw fatigue-related incidents drop from over 27% to just 15% of major crashes. As of the 2022 report, this figure has remained low at 8.2%.
- Inappropriate speed as the dominant accident cause reached a peak of 31.8% in 2009. As of 2021 it is at a record low of 12.5%
As you can see, we’ve come a long way in becoming safer road users. But we can’t just dust off our hands and say, “that’ll do”. We need to remain vigilant.
So, to help you out, we’ve looked at some of the most common causes of road accidents and ways to help avoid them.
Staying safe on the road begins with knowledge.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to the transport industry, you need to be aware of what you’re facing when you spend long hours behind the wheel on the road, such as the below.
Distraction / Inattention
In the NTI NTARC 2022 report, driver distraction / inattention was responsible for 16.3% (one in six) of all losses in 2021, and has seen a year-on-year increase since 2017. But what classifies as being ‘distracted’? Simply staring out the window? In a word…yes. There are three categories of distraction according to the Teletrac Navman website:
1. Manual Distractions:
These cause the driver to take one or both hands off the wheel to manipulate something not directly involved with the safe operation of their vehicle, like eating food or drinking water while they’re driving.
2. Visual Distractions:
This is anything that causes a driver’s eyes to leave the road or their instruments, like changing radio stations, finding a new podcast, or something they’ve seen on the side of the road.
3. Cognitive Distraction:
Ever found your mind wandering while on the road? What about when you’re speaking with someone on the phone (hands-free of course), or even just speaking with the passenger? This is cognitive distraction, where your mind is on something other than the road.
With a camera mounted in the A-pillar, our Hino SmartSafe Driver Monitor’s job is to keep an eye on your driving posture, face orientation, and eyelid status. The moment anything isn’t where it should be, the system warns you.
Minimum Safe Stopping / Following Distance
According to the NSW.gov.au road safety and rules page, if you’re driving a vehicle over 7.5m (including towed vehicles) you must drive at least 60m behind another long vehicle unless you’re driving on a multi-lane road, driving in a built-up area, or overtaking.
We know that as a driver, you’ve got a lot on your plate, and your mind. So, Hino incorporated technology to help drivers keep a safe distance to other vehicles and reduce the risk of a collision. This gave birth to our Pre-Collision System (PCS).
The Pre-Collision System detects a vehicle in front of you using radar and image sensors, and your speed. The PCS delivers audible and visual cues warning you to brake. However, reacting in time can be challenging. Thankfully, the PCS can apply your brakes autonomously. It’s like having a guardian angel or co-pilot riding shotgun.
Trucks, no matter their size, are designed to be workhorses. Travelling on highways, through cities, and along dirt roads can put a lot of wear-and-tear on a truck.
For many owners, we know getting a service is a hindrance with the juggling of work schedule and potential loss of income. However, the long-term benefits of having regular services on your truck far outweighs the short-term perceived inconveniences. A joint report by NTI, NTARC, and NHVR in 2021, has proved a long-held belief that good vehicle maintenance improves road safety.
So, how often should you get your truck serviced?
While a quick internet search will give you a kilometre range, we advise that you start by checking your warranty and service book, and then contact your local Hino dealer. You can also check out our Capped Price Service calculator which will work out how much a Hino Genuine Service will cost, so you can budget ahead.
To ensure our customers get the most out of their vehicles, we only use Hino Genuine Parts for all services and repairs. Using Genuine Parts ensures you’re using the right part designed for the demands of the Australian conditions plus the availability and range of parts are greater and performance is maintained. At Hino, we also offer a 3 Years Unlimited Kilometre Parts Warranty when fitted by an authorized Hino dealer.
Fatigue is one of the most common things truck drivers deal with when on the road. The NTI NTARC 2022 report states that almost 10% of all large accidents are caused by fatigue. It also states that the largest proportion (38.3%) of fatigue-related crashes occur between midnight and 6 am, and 25.9% of all losses occur in very remote locations, while around 35% of losses occur in outer regional Australia.
There are many warning signs that fatigue is kicking in when you’re on the road. Such as:
- Blinking more than usual
- Feeling drowsy, tired, or exhausted
- Stiffness and cramps
- Aches and pains
- Drifting within your lane (even crossing lanes)
Here are some things you can do to reduce the effects of fatigue while behind the wheel:
- Plan your trip (including places you can stop for a break).
- Get a good sleep before you get behind the wheel. It’s important to be well-rested.
- Make use of rest areas, tourist spots, and driver reviver stops.
- Rest the moment you feel tired.
- Try not to drive more than ten hours in a single day.
One of the most dangerous side effects of fatigue is lane drifting. In some cases, it’s too late to be corrected. But what if there was never a ‘too late’ scenario?
That’s the question that led to the creation of our Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS). Our LDWS uses radar and image sensors to detect your vehicle’s position in its lane. The moment you start drifting left or right, without activating your blinkers, the Hino SmartSafe system delivers an audible and visual warning.
Yes, the transport industry is essential to keeping Australia running, but it’s the people (you) who are behind the wheel and on the road who need to be kept safe.
After all, no matter how many journeys you’ve been on, the one taking you home is the most important. So, for the sake of yourself, your families, and everyone else, stay safe on the road. That’s a decision you’ll never regret.