How to Safely Operate a Truck in Winter
Every winter season brings with it several hazards that impact truck drivers, such as snow, ice, and dangerous roads. Driving these large vehicles in hazardous conditions increases the risk of being involved in an accident. Fortunately, veteran truckers have learned from experience and developed methods to avoid accidents during the season. The following tips can help you stay safe and avoid winter hazards.
Prepare Before the Trip
If you know you are going to drive during dangerous and cold conditions this winter, carry blankets and warm clothes with you. Have additional supplies ready and at hand in case of an emergency, such as a shovel, a flashlight, a bag of sand, matches, traction devices, and other items that will help in case of a breakdown.
While truck drivers often focus on meeting deadlines set by their company, it is most important to prioritize your safety. No deadline is worth one’s safety and wellbeing. Adjust to the road’s conditions, rather than the set speed limit, and slow down accordingly to compensate for the poor traction. Slowing down also allows you time to notice anything wrong and react quickly to the situation.
Keep Extra Space Between Your Truck and Other Drivers
Always keep a distance from the truck in front of you. If an error occurs with the leading truck, there are strong chances you will either make the same mistake or you will get caught in the process. In addition, stopping distances for icy roads are 10 times longer than in regular conditions. Leaving plenty of extra space allows you to get out of harm’s way if something wrong occurs with the truck on front or if you are the one having the issue.
Due to the large vehicle you are driving, every action you take while you drive will affect the truck and the road immensely. Harsh actions such as braking can reduce traction and cause you to lose control of the trailer, if not your vehicle. Brake only in emergencies, and if you can, break lightly.
Use Your Lights
During dangerous weather, make sure to use your lights. Turn on your headlights to ensure that the other drivers will see you. To add another level of caution, during the winter, use your directional lights before you slow down and change lanes. Usually, four or five blinks indicate a lane change during the winter season. If you are going slower than the other trucks, use your four-way hazard lights, take the rightmost lane, and let the other trucks pass you. The lights indicate to the drivers that you are slowing down and can prevent an accident.
If you are already driving on the highway during a snow storm, avoid pulling off on the shoulder and continue to drive with caution until you have the chance to exit, especially during low visibility conditions with “blinding snow.” In these conditions, other drivers on the road may mistake your parked vehicle for a moving one and may slam into the back of your truck.
These are just some of the many safety tips you can adopt when driving during dangerous winter conditions. Use common sense and your better judgment to keep yourself safe and your truck undamaged.