Winter weather can cause a number of problems for those in the driving profession. Even if you are located somewhere where snow is uncommon, regular winter conditions such as colder weather and less daylight can make for tougher driving conditions. In addition to the regular safety tasks required of truck drivers — such as thorough vehicle inspections and keeping on top of repairs and maintenance — there are additional winter driving tips that will help you complete your route in safety, year-round.
Here are seven of the best winter driving tips for truck drivers.
1. Get a set schedule
One of the best ways to ensure winter driving safety in trucking is to get a set route and set schedule. This helps for a couple of reasons. The first is that you’ll get to know your routes like the back of your hand — every road, every turn, all the parts that are a little more congested, or roads with rougher surfaces. This means that when the weather conditions are worse than normal, you’ll find navigating it much easier.
Second, because of your set schedule, you’ll have scheduled breaks, and won’t be tempted to rush through your route when the weather is worse than normal.
2. Keep an eye on the weather
Sometimes half the battle when it comes to winter driving is simple preparation, or more specifically, just being aware of the conditions ahead of you. When you know what to expect, you can adjust your driving accordingly, and you won’t be blindsided by difficult conditions.
If you have a CB radio, you probably already know how useful a tool it is to keep in touch with other drivers. Throughout the winter season, keep an ear out for hazards and bad weather ahead. As mentioned in tip two, proper preparation is half the battle.
4. Look out for signage
Though it’s important to always pay attention to them, in adverse weather, signs will let you know if you need to be especially cautious. For example, there might be a stretch of road that already requires caution in good conditions, so when it’s wintertime you have to be even more cautious. Pay even more attention to temporary or digital signs that warn of upcoming hazards.
5. Be especially cautious of bridges
Certain kinds of bridges can be a pain for truck drivers on the best days, but when it comes to winter driving conditions, extra caution is advised. Bridges often freeze first and may not be treated with grit or salt yet.
6. Watch for signs of black ice
Drivers usually have their guard up when it’s snowing, but sometimes a more risky situation can be when there is a more invisible threat: black ice. This kind of ice is so-called because it is often hard to detect or outright invisible to the eye. So even if you know how to drive on ice, you can find yourself caught unaware because you didn’t know it was there.
Sometimes the ground can appear to be wet when it is actually frozen over. An easy way to detect black ice on the road is to keep an eye on tire spray. When there is less spray than you would expect in wet conditions, it could mean the road is either starting to freeze over or it already has.
7. Make sure you have essentials
In case of emergency situations, it’s always good to keep some essentials in your truck. Perhaps you already have a few essentials like a flashlight or blanket, but it might be worth stocking up on some extra food, water, tools, windshield washer fluid — perhaps even an extra coat. It’s also worth making sure that your gas tank is at least half full at all times.
At Matheson we care about the safety of our drivers. If you drive with us, you can enjoy hourly pay, fixed schedules and routes, and many other benefits. To learn more and see if you qualify to drive for us, head over to our careers page.
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