4 Winter Driving Tips for Truckers

While the worst of winter may only hit isolated areas of the country with each incident, truck drivers often experience all of it. Spending their workweeks on the open road means driving through rain, snow, and ice on a regular basis. So many businesses rely on truck drivers to get items from one point to another, even the worst snowstorm generally doesn’t slow them down.

But every winter, truckers brace themselves for the obstacles the weather will present. Whether you’re a new driver or preparing for your 20th anniversary of winter driving, here are a few tips to keep you safe in dangerous weather conditions.

Stock Your Truck

During the cold winter months, your truck should be stocked with all of the items you’d need if you were stranded. This includes warm clothing, a coat that will keep you somewhat warm in the coldest of temperatures, and a supply of food and water to last a day or two. During extreme temperatures, you should avoid allowing your gas tank to drop below the halfway mark if possible. You should also have a system in place to call for help if your truck should become stuck or stalled along your route. Because diesel can gel in extremely cold temperatures, drivers should put anti-gel additives in their tanks.

Plan Trips in Advance

Before heading out, carefully plan your route with weather conditions in mind. If wintry weather is expected at any point during the route, consider alternatives, even if they add hours to your trip. As your trip progresses, you can double-check the weather and change back if the bad weather never surfaces. If you have no choice but to take a route with treacherous roads, note the designated chain up and chain off spots for each road and consider any hotels that could provide refuge if the roads become too dangerous.

Reduce Speed

As you likely know, a tractor-trailer’s braking distance is between four and ten times greater on ice than when traveling on a dry road. You may feel pressure from surrounding traffic to pick up the pace, but in icy conditions you should slow down to a third of the posted speed limit at most. Follow a considerable distance behind the vehicles in front of you to give yourself plenty of time if they should suddenly come to stop.

No Load is Worth Your Life

Truckers are under great pressure to deliver quickly. However, you’ll delay yourself much further if you push past icy conditions and get stuck. If you see roads are too dangerous to pass, pull into a rest stop or an out-of-the-way area. Be sure to pick an area to park that is level, rather than parking on an incline. Remember that your first priority is to make sure you stay safe and your boss should believe that, as well.

Many truckers have gotten themselves in trouble by pushing on when roads are icy. By taking precautions and listening to other drivers, you’ll keep yourself and your truck safe throughout the winter season.