As a professional CDL or OTR driver, you will be driving long stretches of road across our beautiful country, come sun or rain, summer or spring, or even winter. A road is a magical place and the environment is never static. There are loads of unpredictable things that truck drivers have to take into consideration while on the road. Driving in snowy conditions might be one of the most dangerous requirements of the job.
Our top tips will, however, help you get your job done with little effort, by applying these safety tips for winter driving, you will feel safer and be more alert while delivering the goods to the client.
Bring some salt
Having a bag of salt or sand with you while on your job can help you out of just about any pickle when you are driving in snow. If you should find yourself stuck in heavy snow or maybe some ice, simply take your bag of salt or sand to the wheel that is not budging, throw some of the sand or salt underneath the tire, get back in the cab and try again!
Lights should be visible
When driving in bad weather conditions, your lights should be visible at all times. Make sure that your truck and trailer lights are in working order before you hit the road, and ensure that they are clean when on the road. This will ensure that other drivers see you. We would also advise you to mind your speed, as visibility is bad in harsh weather conditions, you might not see the person in front of you until you are almost over them.
Keep updated on weather reports
It is of utmost importance to have your ears on the radio to know whether the bad weather will worsen while driving in snow. This will ensure that you know when to be extra alert or when to make a stop at a truck stop to wait for the storm to pass. Depending on the severity of the weather, you should have extra safety precautions in place to ensure the safety of yourself and the cargo you are transporting. Should there be a delay in delivery due to the weather, be sure to let all parties know.
Keep a safe driving distance
As visibility is poor in severe weather conditions, it is advised that all drivers keep a safe driving distance between them and other vehicles on the road. Don’t speed in severe weather conditions, as this may be a recipe for disaster and can cause tragic accidents, leaving you with a tainted driving record. There is no place in the freight transportation industry for reckless driving, even more so in severe weather.
Pull over when necessary
Don’t take chances and don’t jeopardize the cargo or your life. If you suspect there is a mechanical issue or even an issue of any kind whatsoever, it is best to pull over and have a look. If possible, keep to stopping at designated areas, or even best, truck stops and gas stations. If there is any technical or mechanical issue that you cannot fix, be sure to let your headquarters know.
When driving OTR or CDL trucks, in any weather, you should always be an assertive driver, even more so in snow or severe weather conditions. You cannot assume that other drivers will abide by the rules of the road or drive safely, be sure to be assertive and alert at all times as you cannot control the actions of other drivers, but you are able to control your reaction to it.
Stock up on non-perishables
If you are preparing for a trip that you know will be difficult and expect severe weather conditions, it is best to pack non-perishable food and water in the cab or on the trailer, just in case of emergency. It can get rather dangerous out there, and if you find yourself in a tricky situation, at least you will be able to survive until someone is able to come and assist you.
Have a flashlight on hand
There is nothing quite as handy as a flashlight. Be sure to have one in the cab with you at all times, even when you are not driving in severe weather conditions. But, having said that, a flashlight can help out a lot when in a pickle and in need of some light while throwing that sand or salt underneath the wheel to get out of the snow or ice. And of course, for many other reasons too.
Jumper cables are a must
This is an obvious one, and should always be with you on any job in any weather conditions. Jumper cables that are in working order should always accompany you, especially when it is snowing and the weather is a bit rough. This will ensure you will be able to get out of tricky situations if you have to.
Be alert at all times
You have to keep your eyes peeled and open for anything unusual on the road, as visibility will be very poor during harsh weather conditions. Especially when it comes to tire spray, not only for you but also for other vehicles on the road. Being alert means being vigilant and aware of everything that is happening on the road in front of and behind you, and being able to act accordingly at times when you are able to prevent an accident from happening.
Being alert is probably key to driving safely during the winter months, also keeping a safe speed at all times. Roads are slippery due to ice and slush, and controlling a CDL truck on ice and slush can be a bit of a challenge, even to seasoned professionals.
We hope that you enjoyed our tips and that you will be able to drive safely during even the toughest of weather conditions. Remember, your own safety always comes first. Keep in contact with your headquarters at all times letting them know of the conditions of the road and expected arrival time at your destination. Perhaps you can also convince your supervisor or manager to get GPS tracking devices for the whole of the fleet. Read this insightful article on the benefits of getting GPS tracking for your freight transportation company and start building your pitch. Safe driving!