Staying Safe on the Road This Winter

For truck drivers, winter driving safety depends on common sense, planning, and attention to detail. Keep your truck in top condition, drive defensively and be ready to handle emergencies. Prioritize safety when making decision and you’ll likely stay safe out there.

Preparation is Key

Prior to beginning your journey, it’s crucial to see if you have the proper winter gear. To make sure you are ready for potential winter-related situations, the following items can come in handy: ice scraper, road salt, jumper cables, flashlight, hi-vis jacket, a good blanket, more warm clothes and packaged food that will last.

Winter brings distinctive issues with it for drivers. Things that might not be an issue during warm weather are critical factors in freezing temperatures. Do not depend on dashboard instruments to provide you with perfect information. Inspect your tires, wiper blades, fluids, electrical connections and lights ahead of each trip.

Get rid of all ice and snow from reflective strips, lights and mirrors. Drain any moisture from your air tanks whenever you stop. Maintaining brake lines is imperative because wind chill can push temperatures extremely low.

Diesel fuel contains wax that can clog fuel lines or damage an engine. Keeping a fuel tank half-full or more helps prevent this issue. If the temperature goes below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the engine should be run every 6 hours.

On the Road

While driving out on the road, be conscious of four-wheelers and other trucks. Pay attention to the road way out in front of you, not just on your immediate surroundings. Looking far ahead gives you time to react if something unexpected suddenly happens, such as an accident or animal crossing the road. When necessary, pull ahead or slow down to give yourself a better view or more space.

Also, remember that snow covering a vehicle’s roof can suddenly slide off and cover your windshield, rendering you blind.

Trucks have a much greater profile than smaller vehicles, meaning wind shear is a bigger issue for truckers. When 40-mile-per-hour gusts whip up, it can cause issues for even experienced drivers.

You should know what both you and your rig can and cannot do. While you should always avoid pushing your truck or yourself, it is particularly important to be conservative in the winter months.

Handling Emergencies

If your truck winds up in the ditch, staying in the cab is usually safest place to be. You can easily become confused if you leave your vehicle, particularly in snowy conditions.

If not done properly, idling your truck to keep warm can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the tailpipe is clear, and the truck is run no greater than 10 to 15 minutes every hour. Keep a window open to ensure fresh air enters the cab. Wear loose-fitting, layered clothing and blankets to keep warm until you can get assistance.

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