Once you leave the interstates and drive your commercial or owner operator truck on the smaller highways and secondary roads, your risk of an accident increases. This is due to poor road quality, which often depends on the county, township, or city you are driving through. Different priorities and different infrastructure funding levels account for this. For the truck driver, driving safely on these roads certainly requires an extra dose of caution. In addition, it helps to know in advance, the types of road hazards you can expect. Here are five of them:
Light Poles, Utility Poles, and Trees
Light poles, utility poles, and trees that are too close to the road are potential hazards for large trucks riding close to the roadside. These collisions can happen while making a turn where the truck’s front overhang (beyond its wheels) can strike the obstacle even though its tires are on the road. Generally, any maneuver that exposes the tractor’s front overhang or the trailer’s rear overhang to the obstacle risks a collision.
Despite the fact that the highway guardrail was patented in 1933, dangerous sections of some roads today don’t have them. Steep embankments may come right up to the shoulder’s edge without a protective guardrail. Many of these shoulders are less than a foot wide.
A soft shoulder may be gravel and/or packed dirt. If the right wheels of your rig go off the pavement onto a soft shoulder at speed, instability and loss of control can result.
Pavement Edge Drop Offs
Pavement edge drop offs can occur as the result of construction activity or road neglect. They may occur at the shoulder’s edge or at the white line marking the right side of the travel lane (when there’s no shoulder). Sometimes they can occur within the travel lane itself in cases of extreme erosion problems. Some pavement drop offs can be as much as 6 inches deep. The combination of the drop off itself and the soft ground at its bottom makes it a very dangerous road defect.
Shoulder Edge Drop Offs
These are similar to pavement edge drop offs except that it occurs between the solid white line and the shoulder. While the shoulder might be paved, riding off one of these often cause steering over corrections when the truck driver tries to steer back left. The correct method of recovery is to slow down until you’re almost stopped, and then carefully steer back into the lane.