Summer can just never seem to stay long enough. With that, the winter months are always approaching with inclement weather on the horizon. Operating an 80,000lb truck can be a difficult task as is much less maneuvering your rig on the snow packed roads. One of the best ways to be prepared for winter driving is to assure that you have the proper winter maintenance check list in place. Here we are going to cover some winter driving tips as well as other general safety tips to assure your fleet is safe during the winter season and the road conditions that come along with that.
Check Your Tires
Are your tires ready to take on some questionable conditions to get your load delivered safely? The tires are more of a factor here than you would think. If your truck is not equipped with a good set of winter tires you should definitely look into having a set of tire chains available and ready if needed. Although, even with the best of tires underneath you, your tire pressure is yet another major factor when it comes to safety in the winter. You will want to refer to your specific tires specifications for the recommended PSI of air to have in your tires. Keeping them at the manufacturer’s recommended level and in good overall condition will go far in preventing a scary skid off the road.
Brake Pads and Shoes
It is crucial to make sure your brakes are in good working order before braving the winter roads. To assure that your brakes are in quality condition, you should test them during your routine pre – trip evaluation. If you hear a squeaking sound when using the brake, it’s probably time to replace your brakes so you can be fully prepared if you need to stop at a moment’s notice.
Prepare Your Truck with a Winter Kit
In case of a mechanical emergency or inclement weather, be prepared by putting together a personal emergency winter kit with necessities. Here are a few essentials we suggest including:
Food & Water:
When it is unsafe to move your truck, it is important to make sure you have non-perishable food & water on hand. Water is especially important if you are waiting out a blizzard or storm to lower the risk of dehydration. By drinking enough fluids and keeping a well-stocked food reserve, you can wait out the storm until it is safe to drive again.
Stock Up on Winter Clothing:
If the temperature drops below freezing, you will want to have plenty of layers to keep warm until the winter storm passes. By including gloves, coats, hats and an extra pair of boots, you’ll be able to lower your risk of exposure to the extreme cold.
Store Extra Coolant, Additives, and Windshield Wiper Fluids:
Besides winterizing your truck, keeping these maintenance items in your truck is a smart way to keep your rig running properly during the harsh winter season. Snow, ice and salt can make equipment run harder. Don’t let low fluids interfere with reaching your next load, stock up with extra fluids so you can replenish if necessary. It would also be wise to keep items on board such as jumper cables, a bag of sand for traction, a scraper, and extra washer fluid.
Download a Forecast Mobile App
Winter means far more than just cold weather when you are on the open road all day. You can’t always know what type of snow, icy conditions or sleet winter will produce. However, you can prepare for the worst of inclement weather conditions by checking the forecast during your pre-trip evaluation and during your scheduled breaks to stay up to date on the latest forecast. Download a weather mobile app, such as the NOAA Radar. This mobile app’s live updates will give you a heads up if your route is heading right into a blizzard or if it is clear sailing for your next drop off. Download the iPhone App or Android App before your next OTR haul.
Navigate the Roads Cautiously
Driving in the winter road conditions can open you up to a variety of dangerous scenarios such as slippery roads and low visibility if you are not careful and aware of your surroundings. By slowing down and driving safely for the current weather conditions, you lower your risk of putting your life and lives of the motor public in danger. Icy roads, especially black ice, can be difficult to spot and can cause a significant amount of damage if you are speeding when you encounter it. This is especially true on overpasses which get notoriously icy in bad weather. Obeying the speed limit and allowing yourself more time for braking are musts for trucking in the winter weather. Also a good reminder when entering or exiting your truck is “the 3-point stance.” 3 points of contact will give you more stability when entering or exiting your rig during icy conditions.
As a truck driver, you are the physical force behind the economy. But you are also the ultimate decision maker when it comes to your safety and maneuvering your truck on the road. If you do not feel comfortable driving in inclement weather it is always better to air on the side of caution. As you’ve heard before, “No load is worth risking your life.” We hope that these simple tips will come in handy for your next over the road trip this winter!