When the temperature plunges to minus 20+ degrees, even the most experienced of truckers can have a hard time managing the icy roads. Poor visibility coupled with reduced traction makes the job of a big rig driver extremely challenging.
However, by implementing preventive safety skills for driving in icy conditions, you can sail through the winter season without any major problems.
Here are 10 winter driving tips for truck drivers that can help you stay safe this winter.
1. Inspect Your Vehicle
Getting your truck prepared for winter is essential to prevent any major problems. Check the tire pressure, engine oil and antifreeze levels fastidiously before you hit the road. You can also have a mechanic inspect your vehicle to make sure it’s ready to withstand the harsh season of wear and tear.
2. Slow Down
Most accidents occur because drivers don’t adjust their speed according to the road conditions. 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. So, be extra-easy with your accelerator this winter.
3. Give Yourself Some Extra Space
Do you know that the stopping distance on a wet road is twice the normal stopping distance? And on icy roads, it’s almost 10 times! So, leave plenty of room between your truck and the vehicle in front of you so that you have enough space to move out of harm’s way in case of unpredictable situations. It’s always good to put extra space between yourself and some of the terrible drivers you might meet during the winter months.
4. Stay Smooth
In cold weather, try hard to refrain from doing anything sudden – sudden braking, sudden acceleration, cornering, etc. If the situation demands you to slow down suddenly on a slick road, pump your brakes lightly. The key is to maintain a consistent speed and avoid doing anything that reduces traction on the slippery roads.
5. Pay Attention to the Tire Spray
This is one of the most important (and commonly forgotten) winter driving tips. A good way to assess the road condition is to observe the water coming off the tires of vehicles around you. If there’s a lot of water being sprayed, the road is definitely wet. If the tire spray is relatively less, it means that the roadway has started to freeze and you need to exercise additional caution.
6. Let There Be Light
The visibility is quite poor in inclement weather conditions. Don’t forget to clear lights and tractor trailers covered in snow and ice, and turn on the headlights of your truck. This will allow the other drivers to see you and maintain a safe distance from your truck.
7. Take Evasive Action
Sometimes, it’s better to take evasive action than hard braking, especially on a snow-covered road. If your speed is around 25-30mph, consider decelerating your truck slightly and maneuvering around the obstacles to avoid a collision.
8. When in Doubt, Pull Over
If the weather condition is too severe to drive, don’t think too much about your schedule. Find a safe way to get off the roadway and wait until the weather gets better and it’s safe for you to drive.
9. Be Prepared
Don’t forget to carry warm clothes and blankets with you. If you are going for an extended trip, carry a flashlight, shovel, matches, traction devices, a bag of sand, etc. Make sure you have roadside assistance for trucks to fall back on if you get stuck or run into trouble on the road.
10. Check Twice
When visibility is compromised in a whiteout blizzard, it can be difficult to see traffic lights and signs. Make sure you look twice before proceeding through an intersection or turning down a one-way street.
These winter driving safety tips might appear quite simple, but they will only work if you follow them carefully. Ultimately, it’s up to you to exercise your judgment and stay safe out while driving on the road.