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Three ways to practice workplace safety while on the road

By Jeremy Wiebe

If you operate a commercial vehicle for your job, driving responsibly is essential to practicing workplace safety. In 2012, there were 18,565 injuries and fatalities in Alberta due to motor vehicle accidents.

In past summers, I’ve worked as a herbicide applicator, applying fertilizer and weed control around Edmonton. Each day, I drove to various sites in a truck with a large tank on the back. Here are three essential tips I learned about operating a commercial vehicle safely:

1. Walk around your vehicle before driving

Driving safely begins before you even start driving. Check your vehicle before getting on the road. Is your tire pressure good? Is there anything obstructing your vehicle? Are exterior compartments on your work vehicle securely closed? Nothing quite says amateur more than you cruising down the Anthony Henday with an open compartment door flailing in the wind. (That’s right. I’m speaking from experience.)

2. Use the three-second rule

Rear-ending someone is always a risk, especially when you’re driving a large and heavy work vehicle. Some of the trucks I drove carried 3600 litres of fertilizer, which means they didn’t stop as quickly as your average Honda Civic.

When driving, keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you by counting the time between when the vehicle ahead passes an object on the road, and when you pass the same object. By giving yourself at least three seconds, you’ll have time to react and apply the brakes. This gives you enough distance when faced with a sudden stop.

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3. Check what’s behind your vehicle before backing up

reversing truck1Because the trucks I drove had large fertilizer tanks on the back, the rearview mirror was not the best way to check what was behind me. At my former workplace, we had a policy stipulating that when there were two people in a vehicle, the passenger would get out and help the driver back up.

If you’re by yourself in the vehicle, and you’re unsure of what’s behind you, just get out of your vehicle and look! The extra few seconds it takes are not nearly as costly as backing into another vehicle or object by accident.

As always, practicing workplace safety takes a little extra time, but in the long run it pays off.

We’re interested in your safe driving tips. Leave a comment or tweet us @HeadsUpAB.

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