Defensive Driving For Truckers: Preventing And Handling Accidents In Canada

One minute, you’re cruising down the highway; the next, your world is rocked by a collision. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and focus on what you can control. The following steps will outline how to secure the scene, document the accident, and get the assistance you need. Remember, quick and decisive action can make a significant difference.

Skip To What You Need To Know:

What To Do Immediately After A Truck Accident

Reporting Your Truck AccidentTo The Authorities

The Importance Of Practicing Defensive Driving For Truckers To Avoid Accidents

What To Do Immediately After A Truck Accident

Huge tanker rig swivelled off the road.

The moments after a truck accident are crucial. Here’s how to ensure everyone’s safety and protect the scene for further investigation:

Secure The Accident Scene

1. Activate Hazard Lights: Turn on your truck’s hazard lights immediately.

2. Warn Other Drivers: Set up warning triangles or flares to alert oncoming traffic.

3. Don’t Move Vehicles (Unless Unsafe): If possible, leave the vehicles where they came to rest to preserve evidence.

Check For Injuries

1. Your Safety First: Before helping others, make sure you are uninjured.

2. Assess Yourself and Others: Check yourself, the other driver, and any passengers for injuries.

3. Call 911: Immediately report any injuries to emergency services.

4. Don’t Move Injured People: Unless the vehicle is in immediate danger (fire, etc.), do not attempt to move anyone who is injured. Wait for trained medical personnel.

Protecting The Scene

1. Document Everything: Take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle positions, damage, and any skid marks or debris on the road.

2. Exchange Information: Get the other driver’s name, license number, registration, insurance information, and contact details.

3. Avoid Admitting Fault: Stick to the facts, but do not admit fault. Cooperate with authorities, but consider consulting with an attorney before making any detailed statements.

The best way to handle an accident is to prevent it in the first place! Truckers must always practice defensive driving: obey traffic laws, maintain safe distances, avoid distractions, get adequate rest, and always stay alert.

Reporting Your Truck Accident To The Authorities

Two officers gathering information on a truck accident.

After securing the scene and attending to injuries, it’s crucial to contact the authorities to document the accident officially. Here’s what to do:

Call For Help

1. 911 for Emergencies: If there are injuries or the situation is dangerous, call 911 immediately. Explain the location and the need for police, fire, or ambulance services.

2. Local Police for Non-Emergencies: If the accident is minor, contact your local police department to report it. Be prepared to provide details about the incident, including the location, vehicles involved, and your insurance information.

File An Official Report

1. Collision Reporting Center: Some areas have Collision Reporting Centers where you can report minor accidents. This allows for official documentation even if police weren’t dispatched to the scene.

2. Mandated Accident Report: Check with local authorities to see if you’re required to file a separate accident report, even for minor incidents. This report contains essential details for insurance purposes.

Consider Legal Counsel

If the accident was serious, involved injuries, or could lead to complex insurance claims, contact a lawyer specializing in truck accidents. They can guide you through the legal process and protect your rights.

Proactive safety measures are always the best course of action. Practice defensive driving, perform regular vehicle maintenance, and stay alert to reduce the risk of accidents.

The Importance Of Practicing Defensive Driving For Truckers To Avoid Accidents

Male driver adjusting rearview mirror before travelling.

As a professional truck driver, defensive driving techniques should be second nature. Driving defensively means anticipating potential dangers, reacting promptly, and maintaining control of your vehicle. This helps prevent accidents caused by unpredictable situations or other road users.

Stay Alert

Long hours on the road can lead to fatigue, reducing your ability to react quickly. Get plenty of rest, take breaks when needed, and avoid drowsy driving. Staying alert and focused is key to safe driving.

Leave Space Around Your Vehicle

Leave extra space between you and other vehicles. This gives you more time to react in case the vehicle in front of you stops or slows suddenly. It also provides a buffer in case other drivers make unpredictable manoeuvres.

Scan the Road

Constantly scan your mirrors and the road ahead for any potential hazards. Look for vehicles braking or changing lanes suddenly, debris in the road, or any other obstacles. The earlier you spot a danger, the more time you have to react appropriately.

Follow the Rules

Obey all traffic signs, signals, and road markings. Drive defensively by signalling your intentions using your turn signals before changing lanes or turning. Come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights. By driving predictably, you make it easier for other drivers to anticipate your next move.

Maintain Your Vehicle

Conduct routine maintenance and safety inspections of your truck to ensure it’s in proper working order. Faulty brakes, worn tires, or other mechanical issues put you and others at risk in an emergency situation. A well-maintained vehicle is essential for safe driving.

Make defensive driving your daily commitment. Review these techniques regularly, practice them consistently, and always strive to improve your safety skills. By doing so, you’ll not only protect yourself but also set an example for others on the road.

Resources For Truck Accidents

A rescue truck and overturned truck on road.

If you’re involved in a truck accident, these resources can help:

Emergency Contact Information

In the event of an accident, contact emergency responders immediately. Call 911 for medical and police assistance. Independent groups such as the Alberta Motor Association also provide 24-hour emergency roadside assistance at 1-800-222-6400.

Legal Counsel

Seek advice from a lawyer experienced in trucking accidents. Law firms like the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association can connect you with reputable legal counsel. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the more effectively they can advise you on interacting with insurance companies and authorities.

Government Resources

Government initiatives such as Alberta’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program provide compensation for injuries and damages from uninsured drivers.

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety investigates accidents and ensures compliance with laws and standards. Report any accident to them within 24 hours. Their investigations can determine the root cause of an accident and recommend corrective actions to reduce risks. The information gathered from accident reports also helps them identify trends and emerging safety issues. This insight allows them to develop effective policies, guidelines and education programs to enhance workplace safety for all truckers in Alberta.

Taking charge of your safety starts well before an accident ever occurs. By familiarizing yourself with these resources and practising defensive driving techniques, you’re empowered to minimize risks and maximize control on the road. Should an accident happen, you’ll be prepared to navigate the situation effectively.

Practice Defensive Driving And Prevent Road Mishaps For Good

Male trucker reviewing route in tablet in cab before driving.

You have a responsibility to yourself and others on the road to stay alert, drive defensively, and maintain your rig. Preparation is your best defence against the unexpected. By knowing the key steps to take after a crash, you not only protect yourself but also ensure the well-being of others. Driving safely means driving prepared. You owe it to your passengers, other motorists, and yourself to make it to your destination.


Want a rewarding career as a trucker? Gennaro Transport Training has helped drivers hit the road safely for years.  We offer Class 1, 3, Air Brake courses, and even a specialized defensive driving course for experienced truckers.  Ready to shift gears? Contact us to learn more.