As winter weather rolls in, most of us opt to stay indoors and avoid the hassle of snow-covered or slippery roads. However, not everyone has that luxury! Truck drivers are always on the move, no matter how bad the weather and road conditions are.
If your job requires you to take on the icy roads, then take note of these important winter trucking safety tips so you can steer clear of potential hazards.
Get Off to a Smart Start
Before you begin any driving in winter weather, get your vehicle safety inspected to make sure all your systems are in order. Brakes, fluids, tires, defroster, heater, wipers, brake lights – all of these are especially critical in inclement weather, so get these checked out and replaced if necessary before the cold weather strikes.
Prepare for Anything
While it would be best to not have mechanical issues or accidents or become stranded, unfortunately these things do happen – and often when we least expect it! Keep a few essentials in your vehicle in case of the unexpected. Warm clothing, bottled water, a phone charger, a windshield scraper, and jumper cables are just a few items you can stash away for safety.
Slow It Down
It may seem obvious in our list of winter safety driving tips, but we’re going to say it anyway – slower speeds help reduce winter accidents! Especially when you’re in a large vehicle, driving fast decreases your time to react and can cause you to roll or spin out if there’s black ice on the roads. Better to take your time than to cause an accident.
Know How to Brake for Your Vehicle
If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS), these will be your best friend in slippery conditions. You’ll want to hold the brakes down to engage ABS, which will help you to slow down more quickly. However, if your truck does not have ABS, you’ll instead need to pump your brakes repeatedly to get a similar effect. If you hold down the brake pedal on a vehicle that doesn’t have anti-lock brakes, you’re more likely to skid because of the poor traction.
Keep a Cushion Around You
No, we’re not talking about a comfort pillow. Rather, when driving in winter weather, you want to keep a generous cushion of extra space between you and vehicles in front of you. This way, even if someone else stops short or spins out, you have time to react and move out of danger.
No Sudden Movements
One of the fastest ways to lose control in icy conditions is by making rapid, jerky movements. Whether changing lanes or slowing down for a stop light, make sure you perform your intended movement slowly, deliberately, and with awareness of all the other vehicles around you.
More Brake Time
We talked about the space cushion earlier…well, this is especially true where braking is concerned. Give yourself plenty of braking distance when you’re approaching vehicles or intersections. When you start early, you can brake more slowly and in a controlled fashion, and thus, gain better traction and avoid skids.
Watch Out on Bridges and Hills
When winter weather rolls in, bridges and elevated areas often get hit the worst, as they’re more exposed to frigid winds. If your path takes you over an exposed bridge or hilly area, use extra caution, slow your speeds, and keep a sharp eye out for black ice or other hazards.
Keep It Clean
Your headlights and tail lights are how other motorists will recognize your vehicle in low visibility. Make sure they’re clean and free of snow or any other debris that could make them less visible.
Use Your Judgment
Some conditions such as snow and ice just shouldn’t be braved, period – even by the most experienced truck drivers! Your first priority and number one winter driving safety tip should always be to stay safe. If weather conditions are too severe, pull off the road – but don’t park on the shoulder! Instead, find a truck stop or some other safe place to wait out the weather.
Need to prep your vehicle for cold weather? Look no further than Inland Truck Parts! Get in touch with your local Inland team today: