In any career, things don’t always go as expected. In trucking, semi-truck mechanical issues and breakdowns are serious setbacks. They can range from a nuisance to a severe hazard. Some of these problems are preventable, while others could happen without any warning. As a trucker, you need to be prepared to handle mechanical failures and should understand how to minimize the risk of them occurring.
Preventing Semi-Truck Mechanical Problems
Truck drivers have a responsibility to prioritize safety, including taking steps to prevent mechanical failures when possible. Pre-trip inspections are an essential step for this. You’re required to make sure your truck is in good working condition before you hit the road each day. There are many parts of the truck you’ll need to check, from your tires to your air brake system. Make sure you know all of these.
Spend sufficient time checking your vehicle, and don’t try to rush through your inspection. In the grand scheme of your day, a thorough pre-trip inspection doesn’t slow you down, and can actually save you time by helping you catch small issues and address them early instead of breaking down on the highway.
If you do notice an issue, communicate with your dispatcher and company right away. They also have an obligation to address safety concerns and should help you find a solution.
Regular preventative maintenance on your vehicle is also important. Many motor carriers have a program and procedure for this. Make sure you know what your company expects for this.
What To Do If You Truck Breaks Down
Even with preventative maintenance and inspections, things can still go wrong, and it’s important to know how to handle it.
1. Safety First
If your truck breaks down, your first priority needs to be your safety and that of others on the road. Move out of the way of traffic if you can. Make your truck visible with the tools you have available and can use safely, e.g. reflective triangles, turning your hazards on, et cetera.
2. Communicate With Your Team
Once you are safe, let your dispatcher and any other team members from your company that you regularly communicate with know what happened. They will help you determine the next steps and will keep the customer informed about any delays.
3. Stay Calm & Address The Issue
A breakdown is a stressful experience, but it’s important to stay calm. Remember that your goal is to get out of the situation safely above all else. As long as you are taking the necessary steps your team tells you, such as getting to a mechanic, and cooperating with any law enforcement on the scene, you are doing all you can and can make up for any delays later. Being overly emotional, however, is likely to make the situation worse.
Learn To Be A Safe Trucker
If you’re interested in a trucking career, Phoenix Truck Driving Institute can help you get started. Our students are able to earn their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) in as little as four weeks and our instructors cover valuable material related to safety.