Winter Driving Tips For Truck Drivers – Beat The Chill
February 6, 2019
February 6, 2019
Winter is upon us, and the dangers on the road will be amplified by snow, ice, and visibility problems. Being a truck driver is already tough enough with all the other hazards to keep an eye out for, not to mention other drivers who haven’t quite learnt the concepts of peripheral vision and general awareness. To get you ready for driving a truck in the snow and in other wintry driving conditions, we’ve prepared a little guide with some winter driving tips for truck drivers to keep you safe out there on the road!
Get Your Truck Ready
This likely doesn’t need to be said, but giving your truck a once-over before you get out there for another extended winter period shouldn’t be avoided. Important things to check are that your antifreeze and engine oil are topped up, that your tires are correctly inflated, and that ice or snow have been removed from windows and lights. Keeping your fuel levels over 50% is also recommended, to prevent your gas lines freezing up.
A few other items that can also help keep things moving smoothly once on the road:
- An ice scraper
- A collapsible shovel
- Jumper cables
- Tire chains
- De-icing fluid
- Sand or salt
- Extra fuel
Forgetting some of these essentials can often mean the difference between moving on or being grounded for some time – so pay attention to your supplies!
Don’t Neglect Yourself
Keeping your truck in good shape is vital, but you yourself are numero uno in terms of importance. Make sure to keep yourself fit and safe in any wintry conditions, by keeping a few things in your cab:
- Warm clothes – always have something extra to throw on top just in case things take a turn for the worse
- Weather-proof clothes – getting out of a warm cab into frosty or rainy conditions is never fun, so keep waterproof and well-insulated clothes by your side
- Keep your first-aid kit topped up with meds
- A blanket
- A flashlight
- A powerbank for your phone is a nice bonus to keep you in touch with the outside world
- Entertainment – especially when the weather outside is bleak and you might be stationary for longer than you like. Keep yourself occupied, whether it be with books (an e-book reader can store hundreds of books and last for several days on a charge – giving you nice variety), a gaming system, or just a laptop to binge Netflix with
- Get enough rest! This is nothing new compared to other weather conditions, but catching enough Zs and staying as frosty as the weather out there is vital to keep your reactions quick and thinking sharp
Additionally, while a cold cab isn’t recommended, try not to overheat it either, or you may suffer from sleepiness as a consequence.
As a whole, keep an eye on your general trucker health – something we have already covered in detail.
Take It Slow (And Steady)
Driving the largest vehicles on the road comes with certain risks, which are especially amplified when the tarmac is coated in a dusting of snow or ice. Keep your speeds reasonable and always allow a little extra space between you and the cars in front. Stopping distances on ice can be multiples higher than dry or even wet surfaces, so make sure you’ve got ample time to react.
When it does come to slowing down, make it a gentle reduction of speed rather than mashing on the brakes, or you may end up jackknifing your truck. This not only prevents you from losing control, but is also beneficial to you in other ways – losing inertia by coming to a complete stop means that, over time, you’ll waste valuable fuel and time getting back up to speed again.
Watch Out For Black Ice
Black ice on the road is one of the biggest dangers you have to face in the winter. It’s hard to see and can cause you to lose complete control of your vehicle.
Keep an eye on the tire spray from cars driving ahead; if you see water being sprayed up then you can be sure the road is just wet rather than icy, but if you notice nothing being sprayed up, pay close attention!
Black ice has a tendency to form in places where sunlight doesn’t reach – under bridges and overpasses, under tree-covered roads, or generally spots where shade dominates.
If You Lose Control Of Your Truck
In the event of your drive wheels losing control:
- Don’t brake – quickly hit the clutch to initiate a controlled slow down.
- Keep steering and counter-steering to make sure you stay and get in front of your trailer – battle it out til you’re back in control.
For more information on what to do if your truck loses control you can read here.
Don’t Rely On Tail lights
In conditions with limited visibility it can feel reassuring enough to latch onto those glowing lights up ahead to guide you onwards, but putting complete faith in a stranger’s own driving abilities in limited driving conditions can end up with you rolling straight into danger after them. It’s best to keep your distance, and also keep an eye out for those who may not have any lights at all – just because you’re paying attention doesn’t mean everyone else is.
If Things Look Too Dangerous – Don’t Drive
This may seem like strange advice for an article on winter driving safety tips, and it can be difficult to do when you have pressure from your company or clients pushing you along, but your safety and that of the others on the road should always come first. Getting a delivery to its destination on time is never as valuable as your health, so just make yourself a warm brew and wait for a suitable break in the conditions.
Hopefully some of these winter driving tips will come in useful to you – although preferably, they won’t be needed at all. Stay safe out there, and remember, if it’s too dangerous, it’s best to wait things out!
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