For drivers, winter can cause many problems. Rain, sleet, and snow make roads dangerous and slippery, and sometimes altogether impossible to drive on. Truck drivers, especially, must be prepared to face the hazards that winter driving brings.
Winter Safety Tips For Truckers
Limited or reduced visibility and traction are among the most frequent reasons for winter weather-related accidents. Aggressive braking or poor shifting on slick roads can also increase your chances of an accident. To avoid winter hazards, make sure to follow these truck driver safety tips:
- Check weather forecasts and possible construction areas along your route and plan your trip accordingly. Chart your fuel and meal stop locations and allow extra time for any traffic delays.
- It is important to always do a visual and hands-on inspection to check tires, wiper blades, fluids, and lights. In addition, drivers should monitor the shipper’s loading procedures to ensure weight has been evenly distributed within their trailer.
- Never drive faster than conditions allow. Slowing down and making gentle movements can compensate for poor traction. Make sure to double or triple your following distance and never tailgate.
- Black ice can fool drivers into thinking it’s water, making it one of the most slippery road conditions. Keep an eye out for black ice under bridges and overpasses, and in shady spots and intersections where it’s likely to form.
- In the chance you begin to skid, take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral quickly, then steer in the direction you want to go. Before the rear wheels stop skidding, shift to drive and gently press the accelerator. Do not slam on the brakes.
Many winter hazards are unrelated to driving a truck and trucking companies often see a spike in worker’s compensation claims during winter months. Icy running boards, steps and trailer decks increase the likelihood for slips and falls. To prevent accidents:
- Always be on the lookout for thin ice on dock steps, tractor steps, cat-walks, ICC bars and in parking lots.
- Before exiting your truck and while still sitting in your seat, make it a habit of running your foot across the top step to check for ice.
- Many frostbite injuries come from not wearing proper attire when you are outside of your truck. Make sure to wear gloves, a hat, and cover your ears when you are outside.
You can never be too careful when driving in the winter. The best truck driving safety tip we can give you, though, applies year round, on the road and off. Never put yourself into situations where you aren’t comfortable.