With winter starting early in some parts of the country, now is the time to discuss the importance of truck drivers following every safety precaution on the road. The risks of winter weather aren’t limited to snow – ice on the roads, wet conditions and gusty winds can all lead to a slew of dangerous situations.
Traction and Visibility
Why is truck driving in winter different from other weather conditions? Two key factors: Traction and visibility.
- Traction. Snowy, icy conditions mean lots of slipping, so starting, stopping and steering are all difficult due to the lack of traction. Improperly dealing with a lack of traction can have dangerous results.
- Visibility. Snow and sleet make it extremely difficult to see ahead on the road. Impaired visibility prevents drivers from seeing what’s ahead or beside them, which can result in collisions and many other accidents.
Winter Driving Safety Tips
The key to safe winter driving is planning and preparedness. Understanding the serious hazards on the road when winter weather is in full swing — and knowing how to stay safe in the face of those dangers — can be the difference between a conscientious driver and a dangerous one. Here are some tips to help drivers stay safe.
- Maintain control of the truck’s speed. A lack of traction makes it easy to lose control, especially at high speeds. Don’t speed in slippery conditions to avoid trouble.
- Pay attention to the road ahead. Avoid distractions at all costs, especially during winter weather, when roads are icy and slippery.
- Always yield the right of way. It’s important to be aware of other drivers on the road and always yield the right of way to them in order to ensure their safety as well as the truck driver’s.
- Keep your distance. Drivers should allow themselves at least three times as much stopping room in winter weather to avoid hazards.
- Stay to the right. Truck drivers should never be in the passing lane and should never pass other vehicles unless absolutely necessary.
- Know what to do to avoid accidents. For instance, when losing traction, never use the clutch or the engine break. Also, keep windows, windshields and mirrors clear at all times to prevent problems with visibility.
- Be prepared with the right tools. Be sure to have a winter weather survival kit handy. It should include non-perishable snacks, candles, bottled water, mittens, an extra pair of warm boots, an extra set of clothes, spare spikes, a flashlight with batteries and a snow scraper.
- Be careful when getting in and out of the tractor. Even when stopped, measures must be taken to ensure that the driver doesn’t slip when coming in or out of the tractor, as steps can get wet and slippery.
- Make sure all equipment is in working order. Be sure day and night lights are on and working properly at all times. Be sure the heater and other equipment works properly and that the equipment is in good condition.
- During dangerous conditions, get off the road. When conditions are too dangerous, the best thing for a driver to do is simple: Get off the road. This will get the driver and all others on the road out of harm’s way.
Winter road conditions and careless winter driving make for a dangerous combination. Keeping these safety tips in mind can help keep truck drivers, and those sharing the road with them, safe.