Truck drivers are prone to experience harsh weather conditions due to the nature of their work. This becomes especially evident in winter when temperatures drop to an alarming degree. During this time, even seasoned road veterans find it difficult to manage the wheels once they meet the cold and harsh icy roads.
Being always safe and ready is therefore important. Remember, no two roads are the same during winter. In the absence of a well-thought-out preparation, truck drivers face life-threatening risks while on the road. A highway may be filled with black ice, while another may have gone through intense hail or sleet.
Fortunately, there are measures truck drivers can do to minimize if not totally eliminate the dangers posed by winter driving. The following are helpful tips to keep truck drivers hauling despite difficult weather conditions
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Don’t Forget to Inspect
One effective way to prevent the possibility of any problems from occurring is by inspecting every nook and cranny of your truck. Make sure that you check its engine oil, tire pressure, and levels of antifreeze prior to hitting the road.
If you feel more at ease when a professional inspect your truck, feel free to allow a mechanic to check your vehicle. Their expertise helps prepare your truck to endure winter’s harsh weather.
You should similarly consider using fuel that is blended and treated for low temperatures. Diesel exhaust has the tendency to freeze when exposed to temperatures below 10-degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, low fuel tanks are prone to trap condensation. It would be best to have Anti-Gel or Anti-Freeze ready once cold or bad weather hits.
Winterize Your Vehicle
If homes can be winterized in preparation for the snowy season, trucks can be winterized too. Give your truck necessities such as moving blankets, tire chains, recovery straps, tow straps, reflective vests, tow hooks. Include the basics such as flashlights, jumper cables, a bag of sand or salt, and additional windshield wiper fluid.
Related article: How to Choose and Use Tire Chains Like a Pro
Similarly make yourself ready by investing in heavy blankets, scarves, warm bedding, boots, thermal socks, as well as food and water that will last for a day or two. Your health and safety are as crucial as your truck’s well-being.
Restrict Your Speed
Winter weather can worsen road conditions. Driving too fast is not advisable, so it is reaching the speed limit. Use your own discretion and do your best to go slow. Though doing so can cost you time, it minimizes the possibility of having accidents.
If you think you will be unable to drive safely even when you are using minimal speed, best to wait out the bad weather. Being safe is always best than being sorry. If you do decide to drive, go slow. Be careful in using your accelerator.
Know that icy roads require your stopping distance to be ten times more than normal. It is highly recommended that you leave sufficient space between your truck and any vehicle in front of you when stopping. Space affords you the opportunity to get out of a potentially dangerous situation during unexpected and unpredictable wintry road conditions.
Avoid making sudden brakes, acceleration or corner turns. Lightly put on the brakes if you need to slow down on a slick icy road. It is critical that you keep your speed consistent. Avoid any actions that will decrease your traction when driving on slippery roads.
If you are driving anywhere from 25 to 30 mph, decelerate your speed and maneuver around any existing obstacles in order to stay away from collisions.
Preparation is Key
Cold weather requires you to bring warm clothes as well as blankets. Extended trips demand that you similarly carry matches, a shovel, and traction devices. Ensure that roadside assistance is available if in case you encounter any difficulties.
Wearing proper clothes is essential. Bring extra rain gear, gloves, and loose layers of clothing. A coat is necessary for protection against harsh day or night temperatures. Additional windshield washer fluid is a must as well as a windshield scraper. Jumper cables, traction mats or tire chains are also necessary. Having a minimum of half a tank of gas during winter is also best.
Stay Alert and Aware
Paying attention to the little things keeps you protected. Truck drivers are usually unaware of water coming off tires of other vehicles. If you see water being sprayed from other vehicles, it is highly likely that the road is wet. If there is less spray coming from the tires, the roads are probably frozen and caution is a necessity.
Be alert too of poor visibility during winter weather conditions. Make sure your truck’s headlights are powered on. Doing so helps you keep a safe distance from other trucks on the road, and vice versa.
If you even have a mild inkling that road conditions are too severe for any vehicle to drive through, stop driving. Pullover and make sure to wait until the weather is safe enough for you to drive in.
If you need to drive through a whiteout blizzard, know that it is difficult to see through traffic signs and lights. Always look twice prior to going through an intersection or turning onto a one-way street.
Heed Road Rules and Regulations
Road signs are there for a reason. If you see a signpost that says 35 mph, it is the speed considered safe for vehicles to drive in based on testing. Following road signs keeps you and other drivers safe.
Obey what the signs say. When putting on the brakes, do so lightly. Know current weather conditions as well as anticipated ones. Stay updated on weather reports and react appropriately.
Practice Safety at All Times
When driving near or when you are about to approach bridges, make sure to be extra cautious. During winter, bridges are the first to freeze. Plus, most of them are not subjected to snow-melting materials. Make sure to hold your steering wheel properly and pay close attention to how the roads feel.
Practice safe distance too in between vehicles. Have sufficient space as sharp stops, turns or moves can leave you scrambling to control your truck. Use the Anti-locking Braking System to the hilt during an emergency. Press and hold the brake down as far as you possibly can.
The braking system stops the wheels from locking and helps you steer it around various obstacles. In its absence, you can instead pump the brakes lightly as doing so drastically decreases the possibility of locked-out or out-of-control tires.
These tips aim to help truck drivers navigate winter roads. Heed your own judgment when driving through harsh weather conditions. It is always best to know the context of where you are, how your vehicle is, and the preparations you made for your travel. Communicate with other drivers and keep them aware of your presence. Express yourself clearly and explain your situation. Be alert for snow, icy winds, and roads.
Keep yourself informed of the relevant details of your trip. Know that temperatures that range from 22 degrees to 35 degrees Fahrenheit makes roads slippery. Arm yourself with recent, current and upcoming weather conditions. Adjust your preparations accordingly and always practice safety.