When the temperatures plunge and the snow starts falling, even the most experienced truck drivers can have a hard time. Reduced traction on icy roads and poor visibility can make driving a truck very dangerous in the winter. There are a few steps you can take to help you stay safe this winter.
1. Slow down
It might seem like common sense but slowing down is critical during any sort of dicey winter weather. Many accidents during the winter happen because drivers don’t slow down enough to match road conditions. It’s always better to go slower than you think in case you have to compensate for icy roads. Going slow will also give you extra time to react if anything goes wrong in front of you.
2. Give yourself some extra space
Do you know that the stopping distance on a wet road is twice the normal stopping distance? And on icy roads, it’s almost 10 times! So, leave plenty of room between your truck and the vehicle in front of you so that you have enough space to move out of harm’s way in case of unpredictable situations.
3. Inspect your truck (check it twice)
Getting your truck prepared for winter is essential to prevent potential hazards. Check the tire pressure, engine oil and antifreeze levels fastidiously before you hit the road. Pre-trip inspections are critical to a smooth trip.
If you need to apply snow chains, this video can help ensure you do it correctly.
4. Pay attention to tire spray
An easy way to assess the road condition is to look at the amount of water coming off the tires of the vehicles around you. This is an especially useful trick when you are trying to figure out if the roadways are about to freeze after a rainstorm. If there is a lot of water, the road is wet and if the spray starts suddenly reducing, the roadway have started to freeze. Knowing this information can help you practice extra safety measures when ice is likely starting to form.
5. Be prepared for anything
Having winter weather emergency essentials with you during the season is always a good idea. Stock your truck kit with a flashlight, extra food and water, a small shovel, extra battery chargers, matches, a bag of sand or salt, etc. These items may come in handy if you get into a tricky situation and it’s always better to have them ready.
6. Double check
Poor visibility during whiteout conditions means that traffic lights, signs and other drivers become more difficult to see. Although you may be able to see, don’t assume other drivers can. Double check before going through intersections, turning down one way streets, or going around bends in the road.
7. Stay calm
During bad road conditions, avoid making sudden actions. Breaking or accelerating quickly can cause you to quickly lose control of your vehicle. Try to keep a consistent speed and avoid doing anything that could reduce your traction on the road.
8. When in doubt, pull over
If at any point during winter conditions you aren’t sure of your safety, pull over. Severe weather conditions can quickly go from bad to worse and your safety is always the priority. Find a safe place to pull over and wait until the road conditions improve before driving again.
9. Let there be light
The visibility is quite poor in inclement weather conditions. So, don’t forget to turn on the headlights of your truck. This will allow the other drivers to see you and maintain a safe distance from your truck.
10. Take evasive action
Sometimes, it’s better to take evasive action than hard braking, especially on a snow-covered road. If your speed is around 25-30mph, consider decelerating your truck slightly and maneuvering around the obstacles to avoid a collision.
Always exercise good judgement and prioritize safety for an accident free winter season.