5 Winter Weather Driving Tips for Truck Drivers
Featured alt: A truck driving on a winter road.
Winter driving is something that even the most experienced truck drivers struggle with. Even if your company maintains its fleet, the harsh weather makes the roads slippery, lowers visibility, and makes the whole experience much more dangerous. With this in mind, there are specific driving rules that you should adhere to in order to keep your truck and yourself safe. So, here are our top winter weather driving tips for truck drivers.
Ensure everyone’s safety with our winter weather driving tips
Driving during winter is something that most truck drivers have to deal with at some point. Whether they are moving commercial items or helping people reap the benefits of relocating during this season, drivers can be quite active during the winter months. While the tips we will outline will be helpful, it’s necessary to add that there is no substitute for experience.
Inspect your vehicle
Before going on a journey, you must check your vehicle. This goes double for driving in the winter as cold weather brings its own set of difficulties that you can otherwise avoid. Among the most important things to check are:
- Tire pressure
- Engine oil
- Antifreeze level.
Having a mechanic inspect your truck is always a good idea, especially if you are in for a long drive. The last thing you need is for your vehicle to malfunction while on the road and leave you stranded in freezing cold.
Research your route
Similar to vehicle inspection, researching your route is advisable. Nowadays, truck drivers often rely on their GPS devices and advice from their dispatchers. But, don't fail to recognize the importance of doing your own research. Every road has its issues, especially those further from a city. Try to figure out which parts are challenging and when you should take extra care. Expect that your visibility will be lowered, so don't rely too much on your innate orientation.
Adjust your speed and distance
The most common cause of traffic accidents during winter is driving as if it was summer. Know that the winter roads don't have the same traction as they do when they are dry. Therefore, even if you are a top driver, your truck simply won't be able to stop as quickly as it usually does. So, adjust your speed. You can generally get recommendations from the internet or local services about speed and route recommendations. If you find yourself surpassing cars, know that you are driving too fast.
The second way to ensure that you avoid accidents is to keep your distance. Your truck will need extra room to stop even with the recommended speed. Add to that poorer visibility, and you will soon see why so many accidents happen during winter. So, do the smart thing and give yourself and other drivers the necessary distance. An excellent method to measure distance is to:
- Look for a marker (like a tree or a lamppost) on your side.
- Pay attention to the vehicle in front of you and start counting once they pass the marker.
- Count up to six (three if it summer) Mississippis.
- If you pass that marker after your finished counting, you have enough space.
- If not, slow down.
Don't shy away from using your horn to alert drivers if they are too close, and try to keep calm at all times.
Pay attention to the tire spray.
While you can find valuable info on weather online, you will have a hard time finding out the condition of the roads. The trick you can use here is to monitor your tire spray and the tire spray of the vehicles around you. If there is a lot of water or snow, you can consider the road relatively wet. But, if the temperature is freezing and there is little tire spray, know that the roads are iced over and that you need to take extra care.
Of course, if the roads are regularly and adequately maintained, there probably won't be any tire spray. But, if you know that it has recently rained or snowed and that the local services couldn't have cleared the roads until now, keep the tire spray in mind.
If you are unsure, pull aside.
The final and arguably the most important of our winter weather driving tips for truck drivers is to pull aside if you are unsure. Even the most experienced drivers can run into issues that are not their fault. And the unfortunate thing is that your instincts and your reactions might not be enough to help you on icy winter roads, especially when you factor in poor visibility. So, do yourself a huge favor and stop if you feel that continuing forward is unsafe. Do so not only in bad weather but also in case of truck issues, sleep deprivation, or a general feel of unease. Know that you and your truck need to be at your best to make the right calls at the right time.
Final thoughts on winter weather driving
When handled properly, winter driving can be quite safe. Modern tires, lights, and vehicle systems significantly increase your safety and ensure that you will have a relatively pleasant drive. Not to mention that communication technology is better than ever, with a constant internet connection and GPS tracking. Nevertheless, if you plan on driving during the winter, you need to do so with proper care. Smaller, less frequent roads can be quite dangerous, so you always need to put your safety first.
If there is anything that you will take from this article, let it be that proper preparation and careful driving are keys to staying safe on winter roads. So, if you follow these winter weather driving tips for truck drivers, you will ensure that you have done your best in preserving everyone’s safety.