As the weather grows colder, snowstorms and rough weather spread across the country. It’s important to arm yourself with the knowledge needed to drive safely during winter weather. Even veteran truck drivers can face difficulty when driving through snow and ice. Many challenges on the winter road may be difficult to see or impossible to avoid. We’ve gathered an extensive list of snow driving tips for truckers to help you stay safe on the roads this winter.
Make sure you have the equipment you need to stay safe on the road during winter weather. Staying ready for the challenges of winter will help you feel confident heading out in a storm. The following items should be a part of every long-haul trucker’s winter-ready kit:
- A thick blanket and winter clothes
- Extra water and nonperishable food
- A flashlight or headlamp
- A shovel
- An ice scraper and de-icer
- A bag of sand or salt
- Jumper cables
Before you leave on a winter trip, make sure you know where your winter-ready kit is. Add extra items that may help you survive the cold in the event of extreme weather.
Watch the Weather
Before leaving on a trip during the winter, make sure you study the weather along your route. Watch a national or local weather channel to get an overall idea of the weather. Keep a weather radar app downloaded on your phone so that you can track the storm as you travel. Make a habit of checking the weather every time you stop for rest, food, or gas. By knowing what type of conditions you are driving into, you can be more prepared to stay alert and drive safely.
Driving smoothly is one of the most important things you can do during a snowstorm. Sharp movements like turning abruptly or braking suddenly can cause you to lose control of your truck. Slow down and take the time you need to become comfortable with the weather conditions of the road you’re on. Hold a steady speed, going easy on your breaks when needed to avoid losing control. Give other drivers and commercial vehicles more space on the road. This is probably the most important of the snow driving tips for truckers.
Know The Hazards
Winter weather brings a variety of hazards out on the road or highway. Know the hazards you may face during a snowstorm and prepare to handle them cautiously. Remember your training! Drive with extreme caution if you suspect conditions may worsen or that hazards may be ahead. Common snow driving hazards include:
Black ice is one of the most dangerous winter weather hazards. On the road, it can be difficult to tell the difference between black ice and a wet patch of road. However, be aware that these thin ice layers can cause you to lose control. Be aware of the road in front of you and look for the signs of black ice. Two warning signs are ice on your windshield or mirrors and a lack of tire spray from the vehicles in front of you.
Bridges typically have signs that say ‘bridge ices before road’ and are often not sanded or salted. Approach bridges during winter weather with care.
Sleet and heavy rain both lower your visibility and make it harder to stay in control of your vehicle. Slow down and keep a healthy distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.
Fog and low visibility are two major issues out on the road during winter. Fog and low visibility mean that you should be using your fog lights and driving with caution. Travel at a slower speed than you usually would. Use your windshield wipers to maintain as much visibility as possible.
Above all, make sure you stay alert when driving during the winter. Storms can roll in much faster than they appear to be moving. Hazards such as black ice or frozen-over bridges can be difficult to spot with the naked eye. Make sure you maintain focus as you drive.
Stay well-rested! Never hesitate to pull over during a particularly bad storm or on hazardous roads. Your safety and the safety of those on the road around you are paramount.