Being a truck driver requires a lot of specific skill, especially when it comes to serious winter conditions. Too many drivers on the highways don’t alter their driving when driving in poor weather such as icy or snowy roads.
Good maneuvering and skid controls skills are essential in poor weather. Knowing proper, preventative skills for diving in these poor conditions can truly separate the professional drivers from the rest of the pack. They will have the smarts for making good decisions and knowing when conditions aren’t safe and when it’s time to get off the road.
The job of a truck driver becomes increasingly challenging when handling a load in the foul winter weather, so know ahead of time these safe winter trucking safety tips.
10 Winter Trucking Safety Tips
- Slow down – At fault accidents are mostly due to excessive speed. Driving the speed limit may be legal, but it’s often too fast for snow covered or icy roads. Take as much time as necessary.
- Don’t follow the tail lights of the vehicle ahead – When the snow is heavy, visibility is low, seeing the tail lights of the vehicle ahead means you’re following too close.
- Use good judgment – If the weather is so severe that you need to get off the road, do it. Find a place to get off the road safely and wait until conditions are safe.
- Don’t stop on the shoulder of the road – Especially in low visibility situation. When driving in winter, especially ‘blinding snow,’ other vehicles can mistake your position for being on the road and result you may have someone slam into the back of your rig.
- Don’t be a hero – When the road conditions are sever, you need to recognize that it’s very dangerous to be out there. Hours of service rules, dispatchers, etc. are extra pressures when in a difficult position. Don’t feel that you’re letting anyone down by not meeting a scheduled appointment.
- Keep tires topped up – Good quality lug tires that have the proper tire pressure are essential for good traction for the best safe winter driving.
- Braking – Some drivers like brake more often than usual in less than perfect weather conditions. Some don’t. Don’t engage the jake brake on icy roads. Try to avoid overusing your foot brake, unless the entire unit is absolutely straight on the road.
- Ensure all systems are go – Be absolutely certain during your circle check before you leave that the defroster and heater are working properly. Wipers, wiper motor, lights, especially brake and tail lights, washer fluid is topped up, drain moisture from the air tanks, all brakes are set up and windows and mirrors are completely clean before departure.
- Use common sense – This is one of the most critical points need to be made in winter driving. Use good judgment that will keep you and other drivers safe on the road.
- Pack winter driving essentials – Make sure to include granola bars, blankets, water in your mandatory roadside emergency kit in case you are stuck in a winter storm over night.
Remember that you’re not the only person you’re trying to keep safe on the road. It’s your duty as a truck driver to drive safe and watch out for other drivers on the road.