Trucking in winter can be extremely dangerous, and demands a specific set of skills to be able to safely reach your destination.
Winter weather is often the most challenging and dangerous for commercial truck drivers. Icy roads and blinding snowfall can make roads quite treacherous. By implementing preventive safety skills for driving in icy conditions, you can sail through the winter season without any major problems.
As we are already facing the snowy conditions, we want to equip you with the best information available for increasing safety on the road. With fewer daylight hours and compromised road conditions, seasonal weather creates many challenges for truck drivers.
List of essentials during the snowy winter season:
- Proper clothing (loose layers of clothing, extra gloves, rain gear)
- A coat to support the temperature for either day or night
- A flashlight in the glove box
- A blanket, food and water
- A bag of sand or salt and extra windshield washer fluid
- A windshield scraper
- Jumper cables
- Tire chains or traction mats
- Have at least a half tank of gas at all times during the winter
Plan long trips carefully—what weather conditions may you encounter?
Inspect your vehicle carefully
The first thing to remember when driving in the winter is that it doesn’t matter how fast you are going but how fast you can stop. It’s important to think about your brakes, because the chances of needing to stop or maneuver out of the way goes up when the road conditions are poor. Try to avoid overusing your foot brake, unless the entire unit is absolutely ‘straight’ on the road. Remember, the truck slows down, and the trailer does not. This is especially true, when the trailer is empty.
Check the wear, pressure and balance. Another thing to help your tires not being affected by the winter conditions is tire chains.
For more tips on Winterizing your truck, click here
Most winter accidents occur because drivers are going too fast for road conditions. A slower speed gives you more time to react if something occurs. While driving on a snow-covered road, you may need to compensate for the poor traction by reducing your speed. Moreover, going slow will also give you more time to react if anything goes wrong. The key is to maintain a consistent speed and avoid doing anything that reduces traction on the slippery roads.
Give yourself plenty of safe space
Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of your truck, and beside your truck, when possible. The stopping distance on a wet road is twice the normal stopping distance, but on icy roads, it’s almost 10 times. Traffic seems to move in ‘packs’ on the highway. Find a safe way to get away from the pack and travel alone, with the goal being to maximize the distance around your vehicle.
Black ice is a thin layer of transparent ice that forms when the temperature is close to freezing. Look for ice build up on your windshield; this is a clue that conditions are favourable for black ice to develop. Slow down when approaching shaded areas, bridges and overpasses as these sections of road freeze sooner than others in cold weather.
Check the conditions
Make sure you are up to date with the weather and check for changing conditions and close roads due to snow storms. Be one step ahead of the circumstances. Take the opportunity to find alternative and safer routes.When winter conditions become so treacherous that driving no longer becomes possible, find a place to stop.
Keep in mind the Bridges
Elevated structures, such as bridges, usually freeze first and are not always treated with salt/sand to melt the snow or ice. During the winter months, be sure to approach these areas carefully, to avoid spinning out or losing control.
Talk to people
Listen for road conditions and weather updates on your radio and when parked, talk to the drivers around you. We’re all a little nervous out there and it helps to know what you’re dealing with. Try to find a seasoned driver with a healthy respect for physics to help talk you through it.
Treat your diesel
Diesel gels when it gets really cold. If your diesel gels, your truck won’t run. If you are facing winter weather conditions you need to put an anti-gel additive to your tanks (put it in BEFORE you fuel so that it mixes). It is a good idea to stock up ahead of time.
These are only a few of the all possible tips we can give you for staying safe during the winter season. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any other advice we can share in our BLOG. Our goal is to make sure that you, and all of the people around you, are as safe as possible during the cold months.