Driving during the winter season can be risky for any type of motorist, regardless of the type of vehicle you drive. However, it can be especially dangerous for operators of large trucks given that they are hauling anywhere between 30,000 to 80,000 lbs. of cargo and must drive over slippery and icy roadways. And when a thick or even thin layer of water, ice, or even slush forms on a road, it increases the chances of a motorist sliding out of control and into other vehicles.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, “24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet” each year. The source also says that “over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement annually.” With that being said, it is important for truck drivers to be cautious, alert, and aware when driving in winter weather conditions as well as be prepared for any mishaps that might arise during the time they are en route to or from their destination.
In an effort to help those truckers out there who might be new in the field or aren’t used to driving in winter weather conditions, below we are providing you with some driving tips that are geared toward keeping you safe when you are out on the road.
Winter Weather Truck Driving Tips
- Always carry the proper supplies
The Advanced Career Institute suggests you always have these cold weather essentials on hand:
- extra clothing layers
- rain gear
- windshield fluid
- bag of sand or salt
- tire chains
- jumper cables
- snow scrapers and brushes
- Reduce your speed when inclement weather is present. This includes icy or slippery roads.
It is important for you to drive slowly when snow or ice has formed on roads so that you have ample time to react in the event your vehicle hydroplanes. The last thing any trucker wants or needs is to have the thousands of pounds of goods they are transporting to be sliding across the roadway.
- Always maintain a firm grip on the wheel.
Maintaining control of your truck is key when driving through snow and ice and one way to do this is by always having both hands on the steering wheel. This way, if your vehicle slides unexpectedly or hydroplanes, you are already holding the steering wheel tightly and stand a better chance of regaining control over the vehicle.
- Keep a safe following distance between your vehicle and those traveling around you.
Although it is always recommended that a truck driver keep a safe following distance no matter what time of year it is, they should increase this distance during the winter months. The fact is, truckers need enough space to be able to maneuver out of the way in the event traffic comes to an abrupt stop and with enough distance in between you and the car in front of you, you stand a good chance of being able to move without putting yourself at risk of losing control of your truck.
- Drive cautiously over bridges.
If you weren’t aware, “bridges, highway overpasses, and other elevated surfaces freeze faster than the regular road” which means you need to drive carefully over these areas as the chances of your truck sliding out of control increases.
- Remember to keep an eye out for black ice.
Black ice has earned its name not because it is black, but because it blends well with the roadway pavement. Black ice can be extremely dangerous for truckers to travel over as it is hard to see and could cause your vehicle to slide.
- Brake slowly.
When driving in winter weather, you want to be sure you accelerate and brake slowly. The Advanced Career Institute says that “if the truck is not equipped with an ABS braking system, lightly pump the brakes when you need to slow down.”
When truck operators increase their level of awareness and operate their truck according to the type of weather that is present, they tend to stand a better chance of not engaging in a truck wreck.
However, if the winter weather has caused you to engage in a collision in Nebraska and you now have some questions you would like answered by a legal professional, USAttorneys.com will gladly connect you with a Nebraska truck crash lawyer in your city who can answer them for you. Truck collisions, especially those that involve multiple vehicles, can be extremely complex cases which is why it is nice to have someone who understands the laws governing truck drivers working on your side and providing you with accurate information.