The weather outside is frightful, but these winter trucking tips should make your drive a little more delightful.
First, preparing for your drive starts before you even get on the road with a pre-trip inspection. You should already be completing a pre-trip inspection, but with winter road conditions, it’s recommended that you check your vehicle more often. Remember that this inspection includes tires, wiper blades, fluids and lights. If one of these parts doesn’t work properly, it is a bigger problem in winter weather.
Imagine a tire going out in the snow or your lights not being seen because of all the grime from the road covering them. Also, keeping at least half a tank of fuel in your truck is important. The more fuel you have in your tank, the less condensation builds in your fuel tank.
After your pre inspection you will want to have items packed in case of the worst:
• Proper clothing (layers, gloves, rain gear, and a coat)
• Extra food and water
• Bag of sand
• Windshield washer fluid
• Windshield scraper
• Jumper cables
• Tire chains and/or traction mats
• Reflective vest
• Cam Lock T-handles
• Kneeling pad
• Emergency flares
Now it’s time to plan your trip. When determining your route, take note of truck stops and weather patterns, so you take the safest route possible. If you typically drive the same lane, start taking note of these stops in the spring and summer before winter weather appears. To get up to date information on the weather through your phone, you can download the Weather Bug app. It has a radar that can keep you updated on winter weather ahead.
When you head out on the road, watch your speed. Wherever you are going isn’t as important as your life or others. You will have more time to react if something happens, which also means you need to watch your spacing. Keep a good following distance so you can respond to whatever may happen on the road.
Brake and accelerate lightly. Whatever is out on the road can become an even bigger issue if you are stopping and accelerating at high speeds. This is especially important because black ice can exist out on the road. One clue to black ice is noticing that the spray from tires on vehicles in front of you has stopped.
Be extra careful in the mountains, because weather can change rapidly. Obey all signs, especially in the mountains so you can be as safe as possible.
As truckers, you know how to drive in this weather, but one thing to be concerned about that you can’t control is the other drivers out on the road. Even though you can’t control how they drive, you can control how you drive around them. Drive defensively. Keep your distance in case you need to react quickly and have a heightened sense of awareness.
Lastly, if you find yourself stranded on the road, stay in your truck. Grab the blanket and coat you packed and stay moving to keep warm. Keep your exhaust pipe clear of snow and crack a downwind window for ventilation. Also, you should run your engine for about 10-15 minutes per hour.
If you find yourself on the road in bad weather conditions, don’t be afraid to get off the road. Use your best judgement, because your life is the most precious cargo you are carrying.