Tips for truck and commercial drivers

Professional drivers often need to keep in contact while out on the road, including updates with operations staff or to speak with fellow drivers.

And for long-haul truck drivers,  talking with family and friends on the phone can be a welcome break from the long solitary days and nights on the road as well as help keep drivers stay awake and alert.

However, taking your eyes off the road is always risky, so drivers should use hands-free options for talking and making calls. And texting must always be avoided while driving as it is both illegal and dangerous.

The use of hands-free technology does not guarantee safety in all conditions and safety must always be the first priority with drivers needing to exercise judgement and caution in driving to the current conditions.

Here are ten simple tips truck drivers can follow to maintain safe, legal and responsible mobile phone use while on the road:

  1. Use message services to answer calls: If a call is unnecessary or you consider it unsafe to answer at the time, don’t answer the call. Let it divert to voicemail or an answering service and return the call later when the truck is parked safely.
  2. Plan your trip and make calls when parked: Whenever possible plan your trip and make calls when the truck is safely parked.
  3. Pull over safely if you stop to make a call: If you stop to answer, make a call or retrieve a message, pull over carefully in a safe area, such as a heavy vehicle rest area. Don’t stop where you could be a hazard to other vehicles, pedestrians or yourself.
  4. Always use hands free: In Australia it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless you use a hands free in-vehicle-kit or portable hands free device. There are a range of pre-fitted and retrofit truck kits available, or if you have a portable hands free device, make sure it is set up and working before you start to drive. A hands free device can reduce the physical effort to make and receive calls; however, it alone doesn’t make using a mobile phone while driving safe.
  5. Tell callers you’re driving while on the phone: Always let the person you’re speaking to know that you are driving. This lets them know you may not always respond immediately and reminds you that driving safely is your first priority. “Hello, I’m in the truck at the moment…”
  6. Never take notes, look up phone numbers, read or send SMS: Always keep both eyes on the road and never take notes during a call. Never read or send texts while driving. Likewise do not use social media apps while driving. Anything that takes your eyes off the road is dangerous.
  7. Don’t call in heavy traffic, poor road conditions or bad weather: Don’t accept or make calls if traffic, weather or road conditions could make it unsafe to do so. Also, even if the traffic conditions are light, always tell the person you are speaking to that you’re driving and you may have to end the call if driving conditions change.
  8. Don’t engage in complex or emotional conversations: If a call becomes complex or emotional tell the person you are speaking to that you are driving and end the call. Complex and emotive conversations on a mobile phone and driving don’t mix – they are distracting and can be dangerous.
  9. Use your phone’s features to reduce the effort to make a call: Before using your phone while driving, carefully read your phone’s instruction manual and learn to use the speed dial and redial features. If possible, use a phone with voice activated dialling and automatic answering features to reduce the effort to make and receive a call.
  10. In emergencies use your phone to call for help: Dial ‘000’ or ‘112’ in case of fire, traffic accident, road hazard or medical emergency. Both ‘000’ and ‘112’ are free calls and will connect you to emergency services.

See AMTA’s brochure for truck drivers (pdf) for more advice.