Snowstorm whiteouts can make visibility poor for driving. Black ice makes winter driving unpredictable and downright dangerous at times. Unfortunately, for professional truck drivers, the show must go on–even when weary winter conditions strike. All you can do, is hope for the best and prepare for the worst until spring melts the final frost away.
The number one thing I reiterate regarding driving when winter weather strikes is unless you have to drive in it, avoid it. But, avoidance is rarely an option for a person whose livelihood is based on miles traveled. For when you absolutely must venture into the hazardous winter roads, remember to keep calm and avoid causing any panic. Panic, after all, increases the likelihood for a driver to overact and lose focus.
Pay attention to driver spray.
Observing other vehicles is a good way to see how the conditions of the road are. If you notice that there’s a lot of water flying off the tires of other trucks or cars on the road, then the roads are wet. If you can see that the road is wet, yet there is not much spray coming from their tires, then this means the road is probably freezing. This is a good indicator for adding more caution to your driving.
See what other truckers are do doing.
If you see a lot of other big commercial trucks are pulled over to the side, you should follow their lead.
Wait it out.
When weather conditions are making it treacherous to be on the roads, pulling over in a parking lot of a gas station, hotel, or 24-hour restaurant is a good idea. These places have less of a risk of you getting snowed in, because they get plowed sooner than other locations. After all, exit ramps and rest areas aren’t cleared until main roads are done.
Slow it down.
Slowing down is important when road conditions or visibility are poor. This especially rings true for when you have worn tires or if you are out of practice driving in snow. When things are bad, the best thing you can do is drive as slowly as possible. If you’re driving a fast speed and lose traction on the ice, you are at risk of losing control of the vehicle. Slow and steady wins the winter race.
Allow more space.
Don’t follow closely to other vehicles when roads are slick. This is a no-brainer, but I feel that it can’t hurt to add it to the list.
Let there be light.
Snowfall can cloud view and wet roads make it difficult to see lines in the road. Turn on your lights, even in daylight so you can actually see the road. Even more importantly, you want other drivers to be able to see you. When your lights are on, other drivers will be able to know your truck is there both in the front and back. Furthermore, be sure to check that all your lights are working before driving in the winter.
Your driving should be “smooth as ice.”
It’s highly important to drive smoothly when the roads are slick. Avoid hard breaking, heavy acceleration, or making sharp turns.
Know when winter driving is the riskiest.
Berkley researchers found that fatal crashes are 14% more likely to happen on the first snowfall day of the year. Believe it or not, roads are most slick when the temperature outside is between 22-35 degrees. When it is colder out, snow-covered roads allow more fraction.
Make sure you have what you need.
Gordon Trucking suggests you have the following:
- Chains – make sure you have enough and have the right size!
- Cam Lock T-handles
- Good, waterproof gloves
- Reflective vest
- Kneeling pad
- Boots with good traction
- Hats, gloves, scarves – whatever you need to keep you warm
- Extra warm bedding