Pre-Trip planning for safe truck driving

Pre-Trip planning for safe truck driving

In 2020, IIHS reported that a total of 2,974 of 53,890 fatal crashes involving passenger vehicles were caused by distractions ranging from daydreaming and text-messaging to eating and rubbernecking. In 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that least one driver-related factor was recorded for 33 percent of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes, compared to 53 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes. With distractions from both car and commercial truck drivers, it’s no wonder why summertime is one of the most dangerous times of the year on the road. While National Safety Month is in June, safe driving practices is a year-round concern. Pre-trip inspections of certain truck parts are recommended to truckers to prepare them for driving.

Truck parts to check, replace, or consider for installation


Incandescent, LED and halogen lights are the most popular types of lighting equipment on the market. LED lights are appealing to drivers because they allow for a wider scope of landscapes to see road signs, construction work and roaming wildlife. LEDs are also long-lasting. The glow from halogen lights resembles traditional lighting and is easier on the eyes for passing vehicles. These lights offer a bright front view of landscapes. They are energy-efficient and last approximately 500 hours.

Installation of lighting equipment is simple and can be done in less than an hour. While truck models vary, it usually begins with removing mounting screws that hold the headlight assembly in place and disconnecting the wires from the current headlight. Once these steps are complete, simply plug in the new headlight and screw the headlight into the housing.


Checking mirrors for upgrades is recommended to increase truck driving safety. There are many types of mirrors on the market for blind spot coverage and some offer heating elements and built-in lights. Swapping mirrors typically requires removing the retaining clip that holds the mirror in place, unscrewing four screws and sliding off the cover. If using heated mirrors, be careful not to disturb the wires. Once all hardware and components are removed, truckers are ready to install new bushings, screws and mirror.

Windshield wipers

Windshield wipers are probably not on the top of fleet’s priority lists, but they should be. Summer marks the start of Hurricane Season with intense thunderstorms throughout areas along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico until late November. Wiper blades should be replaced every six months and take less than five minutes to install. Simply pull the wiper open and find the tab. Push it down and slide it back to release the wiper from the hook. Take the new wiper blade and slide it back on the hook until an audible click is heard. Repeat the process for the other wiper blade.

Air conditioning

Summer is the worst season for a failing air conditioning unit. Add compressors, condensers, evaporators, and smaller components to a pre-trip planning checklist. A blast of warm air, unpleasant odor or squealing noise are all warning signs of failing HVAC systems and are often caused by leaking refrigerant, environmental factors and broken or cracked parts.

Be sure to check underneath the truck for leaks and tighten loose fittings. If a leak cannot be detected, perform a dye test by applying a small amount of liquid to the refrigerant. This will help find determine if a leak is coming from hoses, O-rings, compressors, or evaporators. Check system sensors, expansion valves, and switches for possible air disturbances, as well.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technologies

There are four types of ADAS technologies for truckers to consider: Adaptive, Automated, Monitoring, and Warning. These systems can gauge other vehicles’ movements by measuring safety variables like angle and speed; assist with automatic braking; and offer real-time alerts that decrease the risk of accidents.

Proper training of these sensors and processing software are recommended for all truckers prior to hitting the road.


Cameras are a great way to monitor the operation and use of trucks. They can potentially assist with blind spot coverage and act as guides for backing into loading docks and monitoring clearance underneath awnings. According to JIT Truck Parts, black-and-white or colored camera systems come in several sizes; are waterproof; run on 12DVC of power; and may include integrated heating features to tackle cold weather operation. They can also be mounted virtually anywhere on the truck, as a perk.

CB Radios

Summer thunderstorms can cut-off cell phone signals leaving truckers without communication capabilities. Truckers turn to low-powered, short-range units called Citizen’s Band (CB) radios [with integrated Weatherband]. This type of radio system offers 40 channels and built-in NOAA channel alerts to bring drivers the latest updates on tornado warnings, hurricanes, road delays, and closures. Note: A CB antenna is needed to receive a stronger signal.

Warning triangles

Triangle kits are helpful safety accessories to have in emergency situations. When on the side of the road, placing reflective warning triangles around the truck’s location will alert passing vehicles of a problem. In fact, they are also required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act to be deployed in three locations within 10 minutes of stopping. The emergency triangles’ locations are based on the type of roadway and where the truck is stopped.

Final thought

For any part repairs or replacements, be sure to refer to the specific part’s installation instructions, and the truck operator’s manual, for more information and safety requirements.

Jennifer Smith is an e-Commerce Digital Content Specialist at JIT Truck Parts in Highland Park, IL.

You May Also Like

Continental Tire opens Retread Solutions Center in South Carolina

The company hopes to uncover new improvements and technologies to innovate the retread process.


Continental Tire recently opened its Continental Retread Solutions Development Center in Rock Hill, S.C., with a focus on retread process improvements and technology development. The goal, Continental says, is to bring “innovation and up-to-date retread processes to Continental’s Retread Solutions Partners and the fleets they serve.”

Akebono launches severe-duty brake pads for Ford models

The company says its new brake pads last longer and can lower maintenance costs, while still providing the stopping power fleets need.

Dayton Parts introduces fuel injector wiring harnesses, EGR coolers, trailer air tank reservoirs

Fuel injector wiring harnesses, exhaust gas recirculation coolers and trailer air tank reservoirs designed to match OEM spec.

Thermo King launches Electrification Readiness Program

The dealer program is designed to enable customers’ transition to more sustainable fleet solutions, improved efficiency and decarbonization.

Weather Guard adds new truck boxes and headache racks

The 2024 Saddle and Lo-Side truck boxes include the one-key Ultralock security feature.


Other Posts

Diesel powertrain technology that makes a decarbonization difference

Saving diesel can reduce CO2 emissions, but is it enough to make a difference? Volvo thinks so, and made these changes to boost efficiency.

Trade Show Talk: Trends kicking off 2024

Alternative fuels, connectivity, efficiency—there’s been plenty to report on from trucking trade shows, but which topics stuck out most?

J&R Schugel wraps Kenworth T680s to support driver causes

After a driver beat breast cancer, the company wrapped her truck in pink and white to support her goal of raising awareness.

A ‘Toward Zero’ emissions Q&A with Volvo Trucks’s Roger Alm

Talking through the challenges, the technological advances, and the strategies for a sustainable future.