Winter Trucking Safety Tips
Anyone who's driven or been in a semi during winter weather knows how intense & stressful it can be. Being a good driver isn't always enough to get you & your rig through the winter season unscathed.
Proper safety skills & knowledge for driving in poor conditions can be the deciding factor on whether you make the delivery and get paid. Isn’t that why you do what you do? There is no job for truckers that is worth dying for.
SAFETY TIPS FOR SAFE WINTER TRUCKING
1. Slow down
Most accidents occur due to speed. When roads that are wet, iced, or covered in snow, you must allow your rig the proper stopping distance. Keep enough room between your rig and the vehicle in front of you. (approx. 1/4mile)
2. Keep a safe driving distance
Keep a safe driving distance back always, especially in bad weather. If the leader makes an error, you will too. Trucks can leave the road, and yours could follow the lead truck off the road.
3. Using the vehicle taillights in front of you is a big “NO-NO!”
If you can see the taillights of a vehicle in front of you during moderate to heavy snow, YOU ARE TO CLOSE!
If the weather is so severe that you should exit the road and wait it out, then you should! No one should know better than the driver themselves. Dispatchers, hours, and rules can be extra pressure in a dangerous position. Don’t feel that you’re letting anyone down by not meeting a scheduled appointment.
Some drivers like to use the jake brake in less than perfect weather conditions. Some don’t. DO NOT ENGAGE THE JAKE BRAKE ON ICY ROADS.
Try to avoid overusing your foot brake, unless the entire unit is absolutely ‘straight’ on the road. Don’t over brake when the entire unit isn’t straight. The trailer can slide and spin you out of your position. The truck slows down, and the trailer does not. This is especially true when the trailer is empty.
6. Ensure ‘all systems’ are a go
Be absolutely certain during your circle check before you leave that the defroster and heater are working properly. Check the wipers, wiper motor, lights, brakes, tail lights, and that the washer fluid is topped up. Drain moisture from the air tanks, and check that all the brakes are good, as well as that the windows and mirrors are completely clean before departure.
7. Keep fuel tanks topped up
Keep fuel tanks topped up for extra weight over the drive tires aiding with traction. Good quality lug tires, with the proper tire pressure, are essential for good traction and the best safe winter driving.
8. Keep tractor and trailer lights clean
When you’re able to stop in a safe place, clear the lights off from snow and ice which build up in foul weather. They are vital more than ever when visibility is poor. LED lights especially accumulate snow and crud. Keep everything clean, so you can BE SEEN.
9. Pack winter driving essentials
Pack winter driving essentials – besides the mandatory roadside emergency kit for trucking safety.
10. Be prepared for bad weather conditions
A smart trucker is always prepared for bad weather conditions. The truck must be equipped with necessary supplies and outfitted for all driving conditions.
11. Use common sense and judgment
A smart trucker always uses common sense and their best judgment. No job is worth giving your life for. If you put your rig, trailer, or load in the ditch, you may be stranded alone without support. Don’t expect anyone to step forward and take the blame for pressuring a timely delivery. ‘Just on time’ deliveries and bad winter weather, just don’t mix.