Icy roads, high winds, torrential downpours, dust storms can make truck driving stressful. If you live in a region known for certain extreme weather conditions like tornadoes or heavy snowfall, then you’ve had to deal with some of these conditions.
Even if you’ve been lucky enough to avoid extreme weather, there will likely be a day when you will have to drive through less than ideal conditions. If you’re an old pro or just getting started in trucking, it’s always best to be prepared. Keep reading to learn more of the best safety tips for driving in inclement weather.
Professional drivers who run through various states are more likely to come across this weather, but these tips are applicable in any location and season. Following them may help you avoid delays and major accidents.
General Safety Tips
- Prepare: Wear appropriate clothing and keep necessary backups in your cab (rain coat, gloves, boots, extra socks, etc.). Always keep a blanket, a flashlight, extra food, extra windshield wiper fluid and jumper cables handy.
- Pre-Trip Inspection: We’ve said it time and time again — planning is crucial. Give your truck a thorough once over, including checking the spare tire. Have a thorough mechanical inspection at the start of every winter.
- Drive Slowly: It doesn’t matter what the weather might be. It’s always best to go slow. Road conditions can be unpredictable, and if you’re going slower, you will have more time to react. Remember, it’s not just the weather you’ll have to worry about but also other drivers.
- Space: Give yourself enough space between other vehicles so that you have room to react should you need to move out of harm’s way.
- Don’t Stop on the Side: Unless absolutely necessary, you should avoid pulling over on the side of the road if you’re in a low-visibility situation. Of course, if the conditions are too bad to continue driving, then pulling to the side might be preferable.
- High-Risk Areas: Take your time when going over elevated structures like overpasses or bridges and be extra cautious in mountainous areas.
Extreme Weather Conditions
The above tips are appropriate for all weather types. What about more extreme weather?
- Winter Weather: Freezing rain, heavy snow, or even ice can really affect a driver’s route and timeline. Precautionary planning such as being properly fueled, carrying extra food, and having tire chains when carrying truck loads are all key to staying on the road. You should also be mindful of black ice and avoid using your jake brake on ice.
- High Winds: Make sure your doors and all exposed items are secure before you start your journey. Check your surroundings — do you notice high grass or signage moving? This is a good time to drop your speed so that the high winds don’t affect you.
- Low Visibility: This includes extreme fog or dust storms. The best thing to do is to switch on your fog lights and slow down before going over a hill. You can also take an extra measure by pumping your brakes when entering a fog bank so that the drivers behind you know to back off a little.
- Rainy Weather: Always, always, always drop your speed at least 5-10 miles an hour in the rain and avoid flooded areas altogether as it’s difficult to gauge the depth of the water.
The Golden Rule
When you’re not sure if you can safely drive through the weather, it’s always best to pull over. You follow protocol and prepare for other safety concerns so why not ensure you’re safe from weather as well? Being prepared and anticipating various weather will be crucial to protecting yourself while on the road.
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