Trucking Through Winter: Quick Safety Guide for Drivers
Post Date - Nov 6, 2023
Navigating icy highways during the winter months is a daily challenge for truck drivers. At Ascent, we prioritize our drivers' safety and emphasize the importance of practicing safe measures on winter roads. That’s why we’re providing you with essential tips and best practices to make your winter trips worry-free and secure.
Preparation is Key: The Winter Weather Checklist
Before hitting the road in wintery conditions, it’s important to get your truck and yourself ready for what’s to come. Here's a checklist to ensure you're readily prepared for challenging weather:
- Check Your Vehicle: Before hitting the winter roads, it is crucial to ensure your truck is in prime condition. This includes thorough inspection of critical components such as the brakes, tires, lights and wipers to make sure they function correctly. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) emphasizes the importance of maintaining a well-maintained vehicle for safe winter driving. Check out this guide for a refresher on everything you should check for during a pre-inspection.
- Pack Essentials: Equip your truck with an emergency kit, including warm clothing, blankets, non-perishable food and water. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also recommends having abrasive materials for traction, such as sand or kitty litter, in case you get stuck in the snow. They also suggest having a snow shovel, broom and ice scraper on hand, along with jumper cables, flashlights and warning devices (such as flares).
- Monitor Weather Reports: Stay informed about upcoming weather conditions along your route and be prepared to alter your plans if necessary. Organizations like the National Weather Service provide reliable weather forecasts to help you plan your trip effectively.
- Winter Tires: You might want to think about investing in winter-specific tires that provide better traction in cold and snowy conditions. However, before making any tire purchases, it's a good idea to visit the NHTSA's tires webpage to assess tire safety ratings.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Safe Driving Tips
When driving in winter weather, adopting a slower pace and a patient approach is your most reliable strategy. Here are some more tips to practice safe driving tactics while out on the road during the wintertime:
- Reduce Speed: Slow down and maintain a safe distance between you and other vehicles. According to FMCSA, you should reduce your speed by one-third on wet roads and by one half or more on snow-packed roads.
- Braking: Avoid sudden braking, as it can lead to skidding. Instead, brake gently and well in advance of a stop, as recommended by the American Automobile Association (AAA). If conditions are severe, avoid full stops whenever you can, as it's easier to keep rolling.
- Maintain a Safe Following Distance: In winter weather conditions, it's crucial to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Allowing extra space gives you more time to react to sudden stops or slippery road conditions. The AAA suggests at least a six-second following distance, which provides a buffer for unexpected situations on icy roads.
- Stay Alert: Stay attentive and minimize distractions. The presence of ice, snow, and other drivers demands your full concentration for a safer winter driving experience.
Know the Road Ahead: Route Planning
A major part of being a responsible winter driver is knowing the road ahead of you. Consider the following:
- Alternate Routes: Identify alternate routes that might be less affected by winter weather and keep them in your back pocket as plan B. This approach, endorsed by the USDOT, can be a valuable part of your winter driving strategy.
- Scheduled Breaks: Plan your route with frequent stops for rest and to check road conditions. This can prevent fatigue and help you stay aware of changing weather patterns. Check out the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations to make sure you are following protocol and, untimely, looking out for your own safety.
- Know Your Limits: If conditions decline rapidly, don't hesitate to pull over and wait for improved conditions. Your safety is more important than your schedule.
Here at Ascent, safety is our utmost priority, and we encourage our owner operators to make the “safe call.”
Join Our Team: Ascent Expedite is Looking for Owner Operators
We are actively seeking experienced owner operators who share our commitment to safety and understand the challenges of winter trucking. If you want to be part of a team that prioritizes your safety and well-being on the road, we invite you to join us at Ascent Expedite. Together, we can navigate the winter months with confidence, knowing that you have the support of a company dedicated to your success and safety.
Regardless of who you drive for, winter trucking is tough, but always remember your safety matters most. Prepare your truck, slow down, stay alert and plan your routes wisely. Safety is key, so remember to take these tips with you on your winter commutes and stay safe out there!