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The Road Ahead: A Checklist for OTR Truck Driver Safety

Over-the-road driving can be unpredictable. Adverse weather, unsafe drivers and unexpected road conditions can all lead to accidents, delays and other driving infractions. Midwest’s OTR drivers are on the road every day, on average covering 2,800 miles per week. Drivers’ ability to stay focused and make the right decisions is key to ensuring truck driver safety on the road. 

That’s why truck driver safety a foundation of Midwest’s culture.  

Prioritizing Driver Safety

Safety isn’t something we just talk about. It’s built into our training, culture and everyday priorities. It’s a key reason why Midwest offers our drivers guaranteed minimum pay–because in unsafe conditions, drivers should be able to prioritize their safety and not worry about their paycheck. 

Midwest OTR Driver Safety Checklist

When OTR drivers make mistakes caused by speeding, driving overweight vehicles or lane violations, they face higher fees and penalties than other drivers. Many of these accidents, tickets and fines are preventable if drivers take the time to prepare for their trip. Review this checklist of truck driver safety tips before you get on the road to stay as safe as possible. 

1. Plan Your Trip

The ability to effectively predict time spent driving, plan strategic stops and arrive at pick-up and delivery locations on time helps OTR drivers navigate challenges as safely and as stress-free as possible. Before you start your job: 

  • Review your load assignment 
  • Plan your trip 
  • Check the weather 
  • Consider traffic 
  • Adjust along the way 

 Read more about tips for planning your trip. 

2. Perform a Pre-trip Inspection

An illustration of a woman wearing a Midwest Carriers baseball cap and sweatshirt. She has two braids on either side of her face and is smiling. She is framed within an outline of a red circle.

Ensuring your truck is in optimal condition to travel can prevent accidents and help you make deliveries on time. The first thing to do before your trip is perform a pre-trip inspection of your entire truck and trailer.

Robin at Midwest is also great at “breakin’ down” the pre-trip inspection with these simple guides: 

3. Know Your Freight

Knowing the weight and distribution of your freight is key to avoiding danger on the roads and unnecessary driving infractions. Trucks are legally bound to carry a specific weight based on their size, and having overweight loads can result in traffic violations and fines. Freight that’s unevenly distributed across your trailer can also lead to poor traction and an increased risk of jackknifing

4. Watch Your Speed 

Every year, speeding is one of the top contributors to road accidents, as well as the top warning or ticket issued to commercial vehicle drivers. Inclement weather, high-traffic, accidents, and other factors can lead to an unexpected reduction in speed, and the faster you drive, the harder it is to stop. So be sure to follow the posted speed limit and slow down if necessary.   

A Midwest Carriers truck driver behind the steering wheel of their truck. Outside of the truck is a rural landscape.
A Midwest Carrier truck driver keeps their eyes on the road while behind the wheel.

5. Stay Rested and Alert 

It’s important to be well rested before you start your shift and while you’re on the road. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule by matching your schedule on the road to the one at home. Maintaining a healthy diet can also help combat fatigue. Taking a short walk to stretch your legs can help you stay alert, and remember to pull over and rest if you’re feeling tired. Most important, avoid distractions while you’re driving. Texting, emailing, fiddling with the radio and eating or drinking can all pull your attention from the road.  

While life on the road can be unpredictable at times, the more prepared you are the safer you can be. Keep this checklist of driver safety tips handy before your next haul. 

Drive for One of the Safest Trucking Companies in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association recognized 46 Midwest drivers last year for making the right call, every time, for the safety of everyone around them. This is a testament that our OTR drivers—and our entire team—commit to safety on the open road. 

If you share this same commitment to truck driver safety, explore Midwest’s open positions today

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