Truckers: The Essential Winter Survival Guide
Driving in the snow can pose safety challenges on its own. Add to that freezing temperatures, sleet, ice and other drivers that are inexperienced or ill-prepared and it could spell disaster. And when you’re driving a truck, the conditions become extremely hazardous for you and everyone else on the road. That’s why we want to share a list of suggestions that will help you make the most of the winter season by being prepared and informed
10 Tips for Winter Driving Safety
Practicing safe driving during winter weather is a given, but you should also take necessary precautions in the event that road conditions cause delays or potential danger. The list below offers suggestions to help you properly prepare for travel and unexpected layovers.
1. Plan Ahead
If an upcoming trip presents impending weather conditions, be proactive in gathering as much information as possible. Communicate with other drivers in your area, check the NOAA’s satellite information, and tune into radio stations for updates. These steps will help you plan your route in advance and allow plenty of time to reach your destination safely.
2. Keep a Safe Distance on Roadways
The actions of others on the roadways are entirely unpredictable, so increase traveling distance from them to prevent collisions. Stopping in rainy, wet weather conditions can require twice the amount of normal space, and when ice or snow is added to the equation that increases to 10 times.
3. Stay Attentive
The road conditions are not always evident. Therefore, it’s best to stay attentive to your surroundings, being aware that patches of black ice can occur when temperatures drop to freezing. Black ice is rarely visible and typically occurs on bridges, overpasses or in shady, less traveled areas. Another factor to be mindful of is allowing ample time for acceleration, and deceleration, avoiding any sudden movements that could reduce tire traction on ice or snow covered roads.
4. Avoid Freezing Brakes
Freezing temperatures can result in freezing brakes. To prevent this from happening, shortly before you stop and park, briefly drag your brakes. This will cause them to heat up and existing moisture on the brake shoes will evaporate.
5. Pull Over and Park
Use your best judgement when traveling through winter storms or dangerous road conditions. No job or deadline is worth risking your safety or survival. Drive cautiously to a rest stop or truck stop, park and prepare for a rest. If amenities are in a safe walking distance, shut everything down, wrap up, and make the most of your stopover.
6. Pack Weather Appropriate Tools
Be sure to pack items that will be useful in an emergency. In addition to winter attire, have waterproof boots with good traction soles, jacket, and gloves that will keep you dry and warm should you need to be outside in a snow or ice storm. It’s also beneficial to have equipment for getting unstuck, including tire chains, shovel, ice pick/scraper, and kitty litter.
7. Build a Survival Kit
It’s wise to have a survival kit for the changing seasons and winter is no exception. Whether you pack a box or backpack, pack the essentials such as non-perishable food and hydration for three days, flashlight, tools, and appropriate gear. Detailed lists are readily available online at Weather.gov.
8. Keep Electronics Charged
Nowadays our communications rely heavily on electronics. As much as possible, have your laptop, tablet, and cellphone charging while in route, so they’ll be fully charged when needed.
9. Prepare to Stay Warm and Dry
Keep plenty of clothes on hand and plan to dress in layers. Layers allow you to adjust your comfort zone quickly and easily, and you can never have too many clothes on hand. In addition, waterproof coveralls, a solid pair of insulated boots, and well-fitting insulated gloves are a must.
10. Don’t Panic
Whether you’re stranded due to road conditions, engine problems, or otherwise, remain calm and stay in the truck. With the various tracking and technology available, help will arrive.
Don't Forget Your Windshield.
Finally, before heading out, consider devoting a little more attention to the windshield. Wintry conditions alone can reduce distance visibility, but dirty windshields are also an issue. Start the engine and turn on the defroster to help in your efforts to remove snow and ice from the windshield and rear view mirrors.
By adding anti-freeze to the windshield wiper fluid, it will prevent freezing and cloudiness. Some products claim to work below freezing. Alcohol is a key ingredient that does this, and it tends to evaporate over time. Additionally, allow yourself extra time to check key points on your truck such as trailer tires, lights, brakes, fuel, fluids, and air tank.
Above all, stay safe!