Winter driving tips for truck drivers

07.02.2020

WINTER DRIVING TIPS FOR TRUCK DRIVERS

The average trucker will drive approximately 150,000 km per year. Being a truck driver definitely has its impromptus whether you have to make a last-minute delivery of goods or change your route due to unforeseen circumstances. One thing you cannot predict, even when you are aware of the predictions, is the weather. No matter the season, an unexpected rain or excessive heat can occur that can make driving quite challenging. However, winter seems to be that season of the year where most accidents happen. Here, we gathered some useful winter weather driving tips for truck drivers that you can have in mind when you have to make a trip during the winter.

 

Let’s start by tracking the difficulties you might come across on a winter day. Icy roads and poor visibility are those two key factors that can postpone or cancel your scheduled trip. When temperatures drop below zero, even the most experienced drivers can face challenges. Having the following tips in the back of your mind can save you from unpleasant surprises.

 

  • Before the trip. Make sure you inspect your vehicle prior to the trip. Some of the possible parameters you want to take into consideration for winter road safety are the tire pressure, engine oil and the levels of the antifreeze liquid. If you detect any problem you cannot fix, notify a mechanic immediately.
  • Last minute check. The last details you need to inspect prior to your departure are the heating and the defroster systems. Double check the lights and wiper motor and of course try the brakes to see if they are in perfect condition. Make sure your truck is clean, especially the mirrors and the windows that are your main viewpoint.
  • Driving behavior. Leave big enough distances while driving. The stopping distance doubles when the road is wet, so you can make the calculations on icy roads. This way you can avoid accidents caused to you or by you, and of course you avoid all the trouble an accident brings. Also, avoid sudden braking or acceleration to ensure road safety in winter.
  • Turn on the lights. No matter the time of the day, under these circumstances you need to keep your visibility as clear as possible. Snowfall can be as dangerous as severe rain, so do not neglect your vision and keep always the lights on.
  • Attention on the wheel. While being on the road you want to have the most control possible. Therefore, it is recommendable to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Use both of your hands while driving through ice for maximum control.
  • Slow down. It wouldn’t be possible not to mention speed in our winter driving tips for truck drivers. It may seem obvious at first sight but it is a fact that the majority of the traffic accidents happen due to excessive speed. Don’t let the speed limit fool you. In case of strong winter, you may be within the legal frame but sometimes even that can be too fast if roads are covered by snow. So, take all the time you and your freight need to arrive safe at your destination.
  • Full fuel supply. When going on long trips you want to start and keep your fuel tank full. The reason you must do this is first to avoid running out of fuel in areas where you cannot have access to a petrol station. Additionally, full tanks give your truck extra weight over the tires that help with extra traction – especially in snowy conditions.
  • Attention on freeze. As you know there are places that freeze faster than others. Bridges and highway overpasses are marked with red in these cases, as they tend to freeze faster than flat or frequented roads. Chances are they will not even be salted. So, you should be extra cautious in order to avoid spinning out of control on black ice.
  • Carry a putty knife with you. Having a hammer and a putty knife with you can save you from big troubles. To start, you can remove ice from the front window fast with the help of warm water or a special antifreeze liquid. Secondly, a very good purpose for it is to remove the ice from the air tanks. When it’s cold, the snow gathers under the truck. You may have tried to check and probably you haven’t notice anything suspicious but because compressed air is cooler, snow will remain there. Unfortunately, the engine’s heat is not enough to melt the snow, thus better be prepared.
  • Use your judgment. In case you feel uncomfortable keeping up with your journey, do not hesitate to take a break and stop, until the weather conditions improve enough so that you can continue with your trip. If you judge that it is risky to proceed with the transportation of the goods, make a stop if necessary, especially if visibility is really poor. Pull over or find a shelter to make sure you are safe.

You can find some general safety road rules here that are posted on the official website of the European Union.

 

An established driving behavior is fundamental for a safe winter trip. What can assist your experience and make it smoother are some essentials you can include at the back of your truck. It is better to have them spare than to need them and not have them:

  • Warm clothing that includes winter jacket, gloves, bonnet
  • Waterproof winter boots
  • Dried food and water supply
  • Propane heater and lighter
  • Methyl hydrate (for fuel & air lines)
  • Extra fuel filters and wrench
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Chains (for tiers)
  • Phone charger or power bank

 

Last but not least on the list of winter driving tips for truck drivers is to consult and drive according to the regulations set throughout the whole trip. That meaning it is essential to respect all speed limits that are adjusted to heavy or bad weather conditions and to not ignore safety indications or warnings by local authorities. And remember that no truck is absolutely safe.