For long-haul truck drivers, each season brings its own set of challenges. Overheating in the summertime, massive rainfall in the spring and fall, threat of severe weather. But generally speaking, the wintertime can be the most treacherous for a trucker. We thought we’d pull together a few tips as a reminder as you head out for wintery locales to keep you safe.
DRIVING TIPS FOR THE WINTER
1) Get All the Info You Can
Thankfully, there are now a number of tools you can use to help you be prepared. Probably the main thing is to keep ahead of the weather. Know fronts that may be moving in across your path, and what forecasters are saying might be in your way. You’ll want to also check possible construction areas along your route, so you are not caught off-guard. As you normally do, it’s critically important in bad winter driving conditions to chart your fuel and meal stop locations, and allow extra time for any delays. Accuweather and The Weather Channel have great info to keep you up to speed on the latest conditions. You can sign up for text messages that keep you on top of the weather. Looking for ways to stay warm this winter? Check out our previous blog post on tips from our trucking experts.
2) Pre-Trip Inspection Time
Just like pilots do every time before a flight, they do a ‘walk-around,’ which is a visual, hands-on inspection. It’s important all truckers follow the same protocol to check your tires, wiper blades, fluid and lights. It’s more important than ever on icy roads to make sure your freight is evenly distributed in your truck because you don’t want to deal with icy roads and product that is shifting.
3) Take it Slow
We know it can be tempting to keep your truck on cruise control, but not during inclement weather. Slow down and be sure and give yourself (and the drivers around you) extra space. Now it’s time to double or triple your following distance, and of course never tailgate. You’ll want to be sure you’ve got at least a 10-second following distance if you are traveling on snowy or icy roadways.
4) Looks Can Be Deceiving
Black ice can be a killer. It looks like water, but this thin sheet of ice can spin you out of control. You’ve heard it from the meteorologists and it is true: the best place to find black ice is on bridges and overpasses, and in areas that aren’t getting much heat from the sun. As you’ve heard, the bridges and overpasses will refreeze before the roadways do, so to keep yourself safe, slow down and look carefully.
5) Take a Brake
It is always best to brake gently, but it is imperative when you are driving on ice or snow. If your truck has anti-lock brakes, it can be a security blanket you shouldn’t count on to use. If your brakes lock:
Release them to avoid skidding
If you start to skid, take your foot off the gas and quickly shift into neutral
Steer in the direction you want your car to go
Before the rear wheels stop skidding, shift to drive and gently press the accelerator
Do not slam on the brakes
Bottom line: don’t ask your truck to do more than it can. If you think the conditions are too dangerous for driving, pull over and park. Your life is more important than meeting a deadline! Remember, Fleet Oil & Truck Supply is here for you, to keep you safely on the road!