9 Food Truck Safe Driving Tips
Whether you’re the owner of a food truck business, or the designated driver of the truck, it is your mission to deliver great food to events. Your business, products, and services all rely on your truck making it safely to every event. Follow these tips to keep you, other motorists, and your customers safe.
Tip #1: Don’t Drive Tired
About 20 percent of drivers admit that they’ve nodded off while driving. Most American drivers simply do not get enough sleep. That’s a huge problem that can lead to devastating accidents.
Food truck owners know that preparing for a long day out on the road doesn’t always make it easy to get a full eight hours of sleep. You have to give your customers fresh products, or they’ll find someone else with better food. That often means chefs get up early in the morning to start making recipes for the lunch crowd.
If you have to, hire someone else to help prepare for the day or drive your truck. Whatever you do, don’t get behind the wheel when you can barely keep your eyes open.
Tip #2: Know Your Blind Spots
Image via Flickr by Wesley Fryer
Driving a food truck isn’t like driving a car. Your truck probably has some big blind spots that make it difficult to navigate through heavy traffic. Unfortunately, other motorists don’t know that. They just think of you as a van. If you don’t know where your blind spots are, sit in the driver’s seat while a friend walks around your truck.
Remember these spots and pay careful attention to them when driving. You should also try adjusting your mirrors to get a better view of the road behind and beside you. If that doesn’t solve the problem, consider installing a rearview camera with a monitor mounted to your dashboard.
Tip #3: Have Everyone Wear a Seatbelt
Everyone in your work crew has to wear a seatbelt while traveling. According to the CDC, seatbelts reduce deaths and serious injuries by about 50 percent. That’s a pretty big incentive. Unless you live in New Hampshire, which doesn’t have seatbelt laws for adults, you also have to buckle up to stay within the law.
Fewer injuries, deaths, and tickets? Those are all great reasons to wear seatbelts. If your truck doesn’t have seats for everyone, have some of your crew members follow in a car.
Tip #4: Don’t Cook and Drive
Hopefully you wouldn’t actually try to cook and drive at the same time, but you shouldn’t even have a worker preparing food while the truck is in motion. This time-saving trick could cause all kinds of problems. If the driver has to swerve to avoid an accident:
- Pots of boiling water could scald people in the truck
- Workers could cut their fingers with sharp knives
- You could create a gas leak
You don’t want any of those things happening to you on the way to your next location. Manage your time so that you don’t have to take such risks.
Tip #5: Give Other Drivers Plenty of Room
Your food truck weighs a lot more than the average vehicle. All of that extra weight creates inertia that makes it harder for you to stop quickly. Give the people in front of you plenty of space so you don’t run into them. Conventional wisdom says that you should follow the “three second rule” (leave at least three seconds of space between vehicles). Since you weigh more, take a little more precaution by staying at least six seconds behind. If you’re moving at fast speeds on the highway, you might want to stay even farther back.
Tip #6: Keep Your Supplies Secure
Normal driving conditions can cause your equipment and ingredients to jostle about in the truck. It doesn’t take much more than a bump in the road for a poorly placed knife to fall on the ground. Then, you have a situation where someone might get cut. You might also feel compelled to save your favorite knife from the floor while trying to drive in a relatively straight line. That’s a bad idea.
Keep all of your supplies secure so you don’t have to worry about things falling or getting damaged. It’s safer for your drive and your work environment.
Tip #7: Follow a Rigorous Maintenance Schedule
Maintaining your food truck will help you drive safer. When you follow a rigorous maintenance schedule, you can stop small problems before they turn into bigger ones. A good inspection should look at your:
- Fluid levels
- Brake lights
- Windshield wipers
Taking your food truck to the mechanic every few months can get pretty expensive. A lot of food truck owners learn to do some of the maintenance themselves. That’s great as long as you really know what you’re doing. Otherwise, a mistake could cause your brakes to fail or your engine to overheat. Then you’ll find yourself in danger.
Tip #8: Watch for Cyclists and Pedestrians
Food trucks have to go where people can access them easily. That often means traveling to places full of cyclists and pedestrians. As someone driving a big truck, these people pose a huge safety hazard. Pay attention at all times while driving your truck, even if you only need to scoot up a few feet.
Also, be careful when opening doors and awnings. A truck door could smash into a cyclist, or an awning could knock someone off their feet. Be aware of your surroundings and take the safety of other people seriously.
Tip #9: No Phones
Never use a phone while driving your food truck. The National Safety Council believes that cell phones contribute to about 52 percent of fatal crashes. It doesn’t matter if you’re running late to an event or you need to find a replacement worker for someone who called in at the last second. Nothing is as important as reaching your destination safely.
Can you think of other safe driving tips that food trucks should follow? Do you know about these tips because you drive a food truck, or have you seen some food truck drivers behaving badly?