It’s almost guaranteed that you will eventually be faced with trucking in bad weather, unless you have extremely good luck and the weather gods are on your side. But seeing as you are probably like the rest of us, the scenario will most likely look like this. As you race against the clock, that winter sprinkle of flurries and rain will quickly turn into a full blizzard brought to you by Mother Nature.
This leaves you with two options: Do you pull over to the side of the road as an attempt to wait out the storm and risk missing your deadline? Or, do you opt to take your chances on the road despite the inclement weather? Research shows that weather-related problems cost the trucking industry $3.8 million annually, but is trucking in bad weather really worth the cost of your life?
A Tough Decision: To Truck or Not to Truck
It can be tough balancing the duties of work with personal safety while on the road. Truckers pride themselves on being able to get the job done no matter what obstacle is in their way. However, risking your life for the sake of a delivery is neither smart nor practical. Trucking in bad weather not only puts you at risk, but it also endangers other drivers on the road. Furthermore, the average truck accident costs about $62,000. So, trucking in bad weather can prove to be dangerous as well as expensive.
So how do you know when the weather creates too much of a risk? Here are three things to keep in mind while trucking in bad weather:
One way that you can avoid problems is to look at the journey ahead of you. If your route takes you up and down winding roads, you might want to hold off until the weather clears. Icy or snowy roads and curves do not mix, so try to avoid especially tricky routes when trucking in bad weather.
Listen to Your Peers
Remember that you’re only a CB radio call away from your fellow truckers, so it’s a good idea to ask them how they’re handling the weather. They may have more experience trucking in bad weather, so see what they plan to do.
Also, if you begin passing other big rigs that have pulled over or gotten stuck, it might be time for you to pull over and let the weather pass. Don’t underestimate the weather that you are in, especially if other truckers have chosen to wait it out.
Finally, communication is important when trucking in bad weather, so make sure that you’re working together with fellow truckers to ensure the safety of everyone.
Weather and Time of Day
Obviously, the biggest factor when it comes to trucking in bad weather is just how rough the weather looks. While trucking in moderate rainfall or light snow is manageable, trucking in a blizzard or a heavy thunderstorm can be very risky.
Driving in a Blizzard
Driving in a blizzard can be extremely dangerous not only for yourself, but also for the other drivers on the road. Blizzards can range from heavy snowfall to whiteout conditions in which you cannot see the road in front of you. It is important to remember that is better to be safe than sorry. If you are feeling uneasy at any point while driving, pull over and wait a little bit until you feel like you can safely drive your truck on the roads again. Deadlines are important, but your life and the lives of others are more important than ignoring your intuition. In cases of white outs, pull over immediately. NOT being able to see in front of you or around you is NOT good!
Driving in a Thunderstorm
Along with blizzards, driving in severe thunderstorms can also be very dangerous for you and those driving around you. Thunderstorms can bring along heavy rainfall, hail, possible tornados, strong winds, and lightning. All of these hazards pose a risk to your trucking. Rainfall can also make the roads extremely slick, so it is important to take it nice and slow. Remember the story about the race between the turtle and the rabbit? Well, in the event of a thunderstorm, you want to be the turtle and take it slow for your safety.
Again, if you notice any of these signs, pull over to the side and wait it out for a little while. This ensures that not only are you safe and still able to perform your job after the storm stops, but so are the people around you. Driving in a thunderstorm doesn’t have to be as stressful as it sounds.
Driving in Bad Weather at Different Times of the Day
The time of day can also play a role during instances of inclement weather. Trucking at night can make it even more difficult to see in the snow. Headlights reflect off of the snow, making it much harder to see what’s in front of you. Sunrise and sunset can also be tricky if you’re driving in the direction of the sun, so make sure to consider when you’ll be driving.
If you do press on through rough weather, here are a few tips to keep in mind that can help you stay safe. These precautions could protect you and your fellow drivers, so make sure that you’re engaging in safe practices while trucking in bad weather.
8 Tips for Trucking in Bad Weather
Winter weather is (hopefully) going to make everyone drive a little more cautiously, so there’s no sense in trying to speed up to hit your deadline. Speed is one of the biggest factors that contribute to trucking accidents. So, make sure that you’re taking your time on the road.
Keep Your Brakes Up to Par
Make sure that your brakes are in check. Icy roads could force you to stop more frequently, so you’ll want brakes and brake pads that are in good shape.
Speaking of brakes, you certainly don’t want to tailgate when trucking in bad weather. Icy and/or wet roads can make stopping more difficult, so the last thing you want to do is to be riding someone’s bumper before slamming on the brakes.
Keep Your Lights Clean
In cases of bad weather, poor visibility is one of the first problems to occur. Rainfall and snowfall can become so heavy that you can’t even see two feet in front of your vehicle. Always keep your headlights clean so that your lights are as strong as they can be, making it a little easier to see other vehicles in front of you or parked on the shoulder. This will also make it easier for others to see you while driving in poor conditions.
Avoid Areas That are Flooded
Just like when you are driving a car, it is important to avoid driving through flooded areas. Driving through higher water can not only damage your engine, but it has the potential of sweeping away your truck or making it impossible for your truck to move. Furthermore, you never know how deep the water really is.
If You Skid, Lean into It
Again, just like cars, trucks can skid on slippery roads. First and foremost, if you feel your truck skidding, remain calm. Though it may be your instinct, do not panic! If this happens, first try to straighten your vehicle by steering in the direction of the skid, but do not overdo it. Secondly, do not slam on the brakes. This could potentially make the skidding worse. Instead, take your feet off of all of the pedals and let the truck slow down on its own.
Pack a Winter Safety Kit
If you do happen to get stuck on the side of the road while trucking in bad weather, you should have a winter safety kit in your cab in case of an emergency. This kit should include food and water, as well as road flares and cones to ensure that other vehicles can clearly see you. Also, make sure you have a reliable cell phone as well as a working CB radio so you can contact others in case of an emergency.
As we mentioned before, in any case where you are feeling uneasy, it is better to simply pull over for a few minutes instead of risking a bigger problem. Continuing to drive in hazardous conditions or in a situation that you feel unsafe in is a safety hazard to you as well as other drives. When in doubt, just wait it out!
Do you have any advice for trucking in bad weather? Let us know in the comments below!