Much of the United States has been gripped with an arctic blast that has lasted for a number of very long days for truck drivers. Some days the high in Minnesota has been a balmy 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, you read correctly. That was the high. The low was minus 4 degrees. Don’t the dog days of summer seem very far away? If you are a big rig driver, you have probably been checking The Weather Channel or Accuweather or your favorite app often to see what will be in front of you as you head down the road.
No matter how experienced you are as a driver, it is always good to be reminded of a few safety tips. After all, you have a job to do, certainly, but at Fleet Oil and Truck Supply, we know your most important job is to return home safely to your family.
Put Your Eyeballs On It
Inspect, inspect, inspect your vehicle before you head out on the road. How’s your tire pressure, engine oil and antifreeze levels? This needs to be done every day before you begin your travel. You may also have a trusted mechanic who can look your big rig over to see if there is anything you might have missed. Winter time is rough on the rigs, and the last place you want to be if something goes wrong is in Minot, North Dakota. Trust us.
Take It Easy
This isn’t just a great song by the Eagles, it is life-saving advice. Most accidents happen because drivers are not adjusting their speed for the current road conditions. Cutting back on the accelerator also means you have more time to adjust and react should something happen in front or beside you. Also, remember that the stopping distance on a wet road is twice the normal stopping distance when conditions are dry? If you are driving on icy roads, you need to allow 10 times the normal distance, so leave plenty of room between your rig and the vehicles in front of you so you can steer clear or accidents when the weather turns bad.
Just think...smooth as glass. When the road conditions are deteriorating, don’t make any sudden moves: sudden braking, sudden accelerating, sudden cornering. The most important thing on icy roads is to keep your traction. You remember this from your training, to pump your brakes lightly on a slick road. You want to just maintain consistency in your driving. It helps a couple of ways: you are in better control of your rig, and drivers around you know more what to expect from you.
Don’t Stray From the Spray
What we mean by this is that a great way to assess the road conditions in real time is to look at the spray coming off the tires around you. A lot of spray, the roads are just wet. But when the spray drops, it likely means the roads are starting to freeze and you need to exercise extra caution, as in slowing down, giving yourself more room, and getting the latest on road conditions in order to keep you safe.
Can You See Me Now?
Have you ever been in a white-out storm? Or maybe driving through fog so thick you could barely see in front of you? When the weather turns south, it makes you much less visible to those around you, even when you are in a big rig. So be sure your lights are on, so everyone knows you’re out there. Also, driving in blizzard conditions can make traffic lights hard to see, so that’s one more reason to slow things down and give yourself enough time to drive safely.
Feel the Warmth
Part of being prepared for driving a big rig in winter weather is, well, being prepared. Just get ready for the worst-case scenario. If you are stranded in freezing conditions, what did you bring that will keep you warm and safe? Do you have enough blankets and warm clothes? Make sure you have gloves, a flashlight, a shovel, matches, a bag or two of sand, some food in case you need it, and a number to call for roadside assistance. It’s also important to make sure your cell phone or laptop is fully charged and you have the adapters to charge them as you make your way down the road.
Don’t Be Superman
We know there are many pressures and considerations when driving a big rig. But there is nothing more important than your safety. If the weather gets rocky, pull over and wait until things clear up a bit.
Yes, that is probably the hardest tip to follow, but maybe the most important. At Fleet Oil and Truck Supply, we are here to help you, regardless of the temperature. Here is our contact information. Let us know how we can assist you as you navigate these winter roads!