Safe Winter Driving: Tips for Commercial Truckers
Driving becomes more dangerous in the winter months. At FIDELITONE, we appreciate the expertise of our contractor partners. We understand that safety is key to your success. We encourage partners to check upcoming weather conditions and plan winter drives carefully. Here are some tips to keep you safe and running.
Drive with the big 10
Keep these 10 things in your truck throughout the winter:
- Loose layers of clothing, including extra gloves and rain gear
- Warm coat
- Food and water
- Bag of sand or salt
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Windshield scraper
- Jumper cables
- Tire chains or traction mats
Inspect & maintain your truck
Check your vehicle before every trip and frequently as your drive in the winter.
- Be certain that the defroster and heater are working properly
- Check wiper blades, wiper motor, and lights—especially brake and tail lights.
- Drain moisture from the air tanks.
- Check that all brakes are set up.
- Make sure windows and mirrors are clean.
- Top off your washer fluid.
- Top off your fuel tank. In the winter, drive with at least half a tank of fuel so you’re ready for emergencies. Topping off the tank puts extra weight over the drive tires to improve traction, too.
- Make sure your batteries, glow plugs, and block heater are in working order. All are essential to starting your truck in cold weather.
- Use good quality lug tires with proper tire pressure to help with traction on the road.
Know the road conditions
- Watch for black ice—a clear layer of ice that forms when the temperature is close to freezing. It can be hard to see and can occur even on a sunny day. The road may look slightly wet. Watch for black ice when the temperature is near 32-40°F, and pay attention to clues, like frost forming on your truck antennae and mirrors. Watch for the water spray coming off tires from other vehicles. If the spray stops, black ice may be forming.
- Be careful on bridges and overpasses. They usually freeze first. You could be traveling fine on the highway but lose control once you enter a bridge, so drive with care.
- Mountain weather can be severe and change quickly in winter. Be ready for wind gusts, and watch or listen for emergency vehicles and snowplows.
- You may need tire chains for certain routes. Some states may require them under snowy conditions.
- Most winter accidents occur because drivers are going too fast for road conditions. Also, hydroplaning, including loss of control due to slush, happens more frequently at higher speeds. Slow down to maintain control. Give yourself plenty of time to react.
- In winter conditions, stopping distance can be 10 times longer. Leave plenty of space in front of your vehicle.
- Allow extra time for your route. If you believe you can’t drive safely, get off the road.
If you have to stop
- If at all possible, do not stop in avalanche zones.
- Don’t stop on the shoulder of the road. In whiteout conditions, other drivers trying to follow your truck as a guide for the road may slam into the back of your rig.
- Obey posted rules. Rules vary by state.
Winter driving is not easy, and winter conditions give professional truck drivers a chance to show their professionalism. Thank you for partnering with FIDELITONE, and stay safe!