Icy Roads: 7 Truck Driving Tips for Safe Winter Travels

truck driving tips

Winter roads don’t facilitate safe driving.

Indeed, the awful reality is that driving in winter is a deadly combination. Around 4,000 Americans died in winter road collisions between 2012 and 2017.

That’s a shocking statistic that shows the importance of taking extra precautions on winter roads.

For truck drivers, in particular, those precautions can make a vital difference. After all, it’s one thing to drive a 1.5-ton car; driving a 35-ton big rig is a whole new ball game.

Both the likelihood and consequences of a winter accident can be altogether more extreme.

Winter truck driving tips are crucial for preventing potential problems.

Want to stay safer on the roads this winter? Read on for 7 top tips for safer winter truck driving.

1. Perform Your Pre-Trip Checks

Prior preparation is an almighty key to safety on winter roads.

Performing all the requisite initial checks helps cover all bases.

You know your tires are at an adequate pressure. You know your lights work properly and that you have sufficient fuel. You know your heater and defroster are functioning; that windscreen wipers and brakes work, and that air tanks are void of moisture.

Never rest on your laurels and assume everything is fine. That’s a one-way ticket to an accident.

Be diligent in your preparation for a winter trip; ensure you know in advance that your truck is good to go.

Here’s what to know about semi-truck repair and maintenance.

2. Take it Slower

Inappropriate speed is a primary reason for many winter road accidents.

Inclement weather provides a host of natural challenges. Visibility and traction are both reduced; trucks are harder to control.

Maintaining the same speed as normal is a recipe for disaster.

This winter, make sure you drive at a slower pace. Doing so automatically limits the chance of an incident. It prolongs the time you have to react and keeps the vehicle under greater control.

You’re on a job, which can create a sense of time pressure. Avoid the temptation to rush though. Your life and that of others aren’t worth risking.

3. Brake Strategically

Brakes are less effective on slippery surfaces.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that much. Be sure to brake smoothly and well in advance to reduce your speed.

In fact, you want to avoid excessive use of the foot brake in general. When you do, make sure the unit is straight and in line with the road.

Units that are misaligned won’t slow down at the same rate as the truck. They’ll keep traveling at the same speed, which can pull you into an uncontrolled spin.

Another braking consideration relates to the Jake brake. Thankfully, it isn’t hard to remember: don’t use it on icy roads!

4. Give Yourself More Room

Space is another essential component of safe winter driving.

Everything is reduced in bleak and icy conditions. We’ve already noted how visibility and traction are limited. Likewise, your ability to respond to a problem and brake quickly is far less as well.

That’s why having additional room on the road is so important.

Make sure you leave a significant distance between your truck and other vehicles on the road. Don’t, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid a collision if the worst were to happen.

As a rule of thumb, in snowy wintery conditions, you’re too close if you can see their taillights. Back off and give both of you more room for manoeuvre.

5. Evade Instead of Braking

This tip almost leads on from the last.

Sometimes braking isn’t the best way to avoid disaster. Slamming on the brakes is unlikely to help on icy roads- it may even make matters worse.

At relatively slow speeds, consider decelerating just a fraction and taking evasive actions instead. Driving around the obstacle is often a safer and more effective approach.

This is, of course, entirely reliant on the exact situation you’re in. Prevention is by far preferable to cure. Driving slower and with sufficient space on the road can limit the need to take evasive action anyway.

Nonetheless, there are times when obstacles in the road come out of nowhere- especially when visibility is limited. Evading of braking could be the best way to respond.

6. Don’t Be a Martyr

You’re on the job and a conscientious worker.

You don’t want to let anybody down by being late.

It’s tempting to plow on regardless of the weather, driving in extremely adverse conditions. Don’t do it. Take the sensible approach and find a way to pull over.

Waiting out the storm and driving on when it’s settled down is safer for everybody. As an aside, make sure you have supplies and warm clothes to cater for this eventuality too!

Also, try avoiding parking up at the side of the road. In bad visibility, other drivers may see the rear of your vehicle and assume it’s on the road. That, of course, can have disastrous consequences.

Find somewhere off the roadway to pull over.

7. Double and Triple Check

It’s hard to overstate the seriousness of poor visibility.

Being fully sighted will forever be of vital importance to safe driving. When the weather makes it harder, it’s up to you to be particularly cautious.

Signs and lights can become impossible to see clearly.

Be sensible and check, check and check again before making a move at intersections. Never rush a decision in wintery conditions. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Time to Try these Truck Driving Tips

There you have it: 7 top truck driving tips for safe winter travels.

Thousands of people die every year from road accidents in winter. Bad conditions are just not conducive to safe driving. You can’t see, steer, or grip as easily.

Each and every vehicle has a higher chance of an accident in winter.

However, huge big rig trucks have a harder job than others. These colossal vehicles take some serious stopping and manoeuvring at the best of times. In snowy, icy weather, the job becomes ten times harder.

Taking extra precautions is essential. Hopefully, this post has provided some useful reminders as to how to do exactly that.

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