Whether or not you were a Boy Scout, their motto works perfectly for driving: be prepared.
This advice works any time of the year, but is vital in winter, since preparation and being ready for the unexpected can make the difference between making your run safely or encountering challenges on the road that, at best, can put you behind schedule, and worst, can put you in the hospital and your rig out commission.
These challenges can be everything from sliding, damaging your truck or your load, or injuring yourself or others. Winter driving also could mean the possibility of not making it to your destination the way you planned due to road closures or needing or taking longer due to needing an alternate route.
You can’t do a lot about winter road conditions, but you can still control how you respond to them. Plus, the more experience you have on the roads, it can improve your driving skills and abilities.
The following are some driving tips for truck drivers for winter weather:
- Check what’s ahead. This includes looking at the weather forecast regularly for the next few hours. Weather changes regularly, but short-term outlooks are usually fairly accurate. Planning ahead also includes looking at your route in the next few hours to anticipate things like closures, construction, accidents or warnings.
- Communicate. Though driving a tractor-trailer is considered a solitary job, the better drivers have built networks and are great at talking to other drivers. This gives a realistic perspective of road conditions from people with similar experiences and perspectives. Because driving a tractor-trailer is different than a small passenger car, this advice is definitely useful.
- Be ready to wait. You never know whether the delay due to road closures or traffic backups will be a few minutes or hours. So, it’s important to always have your winter weather supplies aboard, including warm clothes, blankets, food and water.
- Make sure your truck is ready. Smart truck driving tips include inspecting your tires, brakes and shocks. It means having tools like chains and knowing how to put them on in chilly weather and poor visibility. It means making sure your gas tank is full, including adding anti-gel additives to the diesel.
- Pay extra attention to the road. Even if it’s not raining or snowing, winter driving can be riskier. Beware of black ice which can make you lose traction. Beware of bridges which can freeze and become more slippery than the road.
- Remember basic driving safety. As you get more experienced in all weather, it’s common to want to plow ahead of all the slowpokes since you’re confident. Safety experts say this is the worst thing you can do. The smarter thing is to maintain a safe speed with plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you. You’ll have greater mass and greater inertia, so it may take longer to stop if accidents occur in front of you.
- Create a set schedule. This will give you a realistic idea of your route and your expected time. This means you don’t have to rush or potentially be unsafe if you’re behind schedule.
If you’d like a refresher on driving tips for truck drivers or are ready to receive more training for additional driving certifications, Tri-State Motor Transit can help!