Safety Tips You Should Know Before Driving Your Dump Truck
Every year, there are around 500,000 accidents related to trucks. They account for 11% of road fatalities. Among these trucks, dump trucks have higher chances of being involved in accidents. These are not limited to road travel. There may also be mishaps while loading or unloading a dump truck. Even merely parking such a type of vehicle needs utmost safety.
Here’s what you need to know about these trucks and some safety tips on driving a dump truck.
What is a Dump Truck?
Dump trucks are a combination of a tractor and an open-box bed. The dump truck’s open-box bed has a single axle attached to the tractor and one or three axles on the middle and rear part of the bed. This box is hinged at the rear of a tractor and powered by hydraulic pistons for easy lifting. The hydraulic pistons are divided into two types. The first piston lifts the part of the bed hinged to the tractor. The second piston pushes the vertical panel. Dump trucks are typically used to haul coal, demolition waste, gravel, ore, sand, scrap metals, and soil. They’re common equipment on constructions, dumpsites, quarries, and mining.
There are two general categories of dump trucks. They are the ones used for on-road or off-road purposes. The tractor and open-box bed of on-road dump trucks are connected on a single chassis. A single chassis makes a dump truck design compact enough for standard roads. The tractor and open-box bed of off-road dump trucks have different chassis. These allow the dump truck’s flexibility to pivot on rigid surfaces and rough terrains. Off-road dump trucks also have large tires with open treads. Such tires are designed for uneven surfaces.
Uses of Dump Trucks
Dump trucks are common equipment on construction, dumpsites, quarries, and mining. The high-grade tires of dump trucks are ideal in construction sites. Their open tread can withstand debris and sharp nails. They are used to haul building materials like gravel, sand, and soil. They are also perfect for transporting demolition wastes. Dumpsites use dump trucks to collect and dispose of waste. They can carry loose materials of up to 30,000 pounds. In quarries, the open-bed box of a dump truck is ideal for transporting gravel, mulch, sand, and soil. While in mining, they can carry coal, ore, and rocks even on rigid surfaces and rugged terrains.
Dump trucks are also designed to tow heavy equipment and materials. These include:
- Concrete mixers
- Container trailers/trucks
- Cut trees
- Farm tractors
- Hooked cranes/loaders
- Logged timber
- Water tanker
- Wood chipper
Dump trucks can also be used for residential purposes. They can haul gardening material. They are also a good option to move household fixtures and furniture. During winter, dump trucks can serve as winter vehicles to plow ice and snow on the road.
Here’s an article on how to start a dump truck business.
Safety Tips on Driving a Dump Truck
Dump trucks come in a variety of sizes, styles, and uses. But there’s one thing dump truck drivers should always consider. This is to focus on safety. Below are some safety tips when driving a dump truck.
Conduct a daily routine and regular maintenance check
Prevention is better than cure. The same goes when you’re about to hit the road. Dump truck drivers should always find time to do a routine check before turning the engine off. Determine if there’s enough tire pressure to carry a heavy load. Check if the bushings, hydraulic hose, lift cylinders, and pins are in good condition. Be wary of any sign of leaks within them. They should also be properly greased or lubricated. Don’t forget to also check the fuel and oil levels. Like any other vehicle, dump trucks are subjected to wear and tear. Some fluids and parts may need to be replaced to prevent the dump truck from being unsafe. Adhere to the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance check schedule. The most important things to inspect are the brakes, electrical system, engine, fluids, tires, and under the hood.
Make sure that you are loading and unloading on solid grounds
The most important safety protocol that dump truck drivers should adhere to is making sure that the dump truck stands on solid ground before loading and unloading. This means that the wheels of the dump truck should equally be leveled on the surface. Dump trucks are less stable when the open-bed box is lifted. The stability of the ground will keep the dump truck from tipping over.
Make sure that the load is evenly distributed on the open-bed box
After loading, it’s also the dump truck driver’s responsibility to make sure that the haul is centered between the rails of the dump box. The load should be evenly spread on the box for stability. Keeping a balance on the weight allows more control once you drive the tractor. Always remember to never overload your dump truck. Strictly adhere to its loading capacity. They are regulated for the utmost safety of everybody.
Focus on the essentials when driving a dump truck
Always keep a safe distance from other vehicles on the road. Dump trucks are large vehicles and need ample space and time for sudden breaking. Keep an eye on your speed. The faster you’re driving a dump truck, the harder it is to control the movement. You should also be aware of the height of the dump truck you’re driving. This is to prevent serious damage when you need to pass low overpasses or hanging obstacles.
Install a bed liner on the open-bed box
Most people think that a bed liner only functions to protect the box from scratches. Bed liners are extremely important when unloading materials from the dump box. They prevent the materials from getting stuck. They also balance unloading when the dump bed is lifted.
Never operate a dump truck alone
Dump truck drivers need to have a truck helper every time. The truck driver will be an extra eye when backing up or driving in reverse. During unloading, he’ll be the observer to caution people from going near the dump truck. This is to avoid any untoward accident or incident. Even when you have to maneuver on intersections or narrow roads, a truck helper can clear the path giving the dump truck a safe clearance to pivot.
Remember that safety must always be your top priority. Aside from following the mentioned safety tips, you need to learn to listen to your gut feeling as a truck driver. If everything seems right and yet you still have suspicions, better contact a skilled mechanic to inspect your truck. Prevention is always better than cure.
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