Top 10 Winter Truck Driving Tips
Commercial trucks are extremely vulnerable to dangerous winter conditions, even more so than regular-sized vehicles. Even if you are a highly experienced and skilled truck driver, winter driving conditions can present difficulties. Wet or icy roads make it difficult for trucks to handle a load and for you, the driver of a big rig, to slow down enough to stop. 70% of roads in the United States are in snowy areas, which significantly increases the risk of an accident. Today, we'll look at the top ten winter truck driving tips.
1. Reduce your speed
- It's critical to remember to slow down when the roads are wet, icy, or snow-covered. Even in the best of circumstances, speed is a major factor in the majority of eighteen-wheeler accidents. The posted speed limits apply in ideal conditions. When driving on a snow-covered road with poor traction, slow down. Slower speeds allow you to react more quickly if something goes wrong. Use prudent and reasonable speed. Slow down if the weather is bad. When going downhill, use lower gears and gentle braking. Avoid making unnecessary lane changes or passing.
- Keep a Safe Distance from Other Vehicles. Slick, wet, and icy roads create ideal conditions for a rear-end collision. As a result, as a big rig driver, keep a safe distance between your truck and other vehicles to ensure you have enough room to stop if the vehicle in front of you suddenly stops or slows down.
Total stopping distance is determined by three factors: Total Stopping Distance = Perception Distance + Reaction Distance + Braking Distance
- Distance of Perception. The distance traveled by your vehicle between the time your eyes see a hazard and the time your brain recognizes it. An alert driver has a perception time of about 3/4 second. You travel 60 feet in 3/4 second at 55 mph.
- Distance of Reaction. The distance traveled between the time your brain tells your foot to move away from the accelerator and the time your foot actually presses the brake pedal. A typical driver's reaction time is 3/4 second. At 55 mph, this equates to an additional 60 feet traveled.
- Stopping Distance. The distance it takes to come to a complete stop after applying the brakes. A heavy vehicle can take 170 feet to stop at 55 mph on dry pavement with good brakes. It takes approximately 4 1/2 seconds.
- Total Distance to Stop. At 55 mph, it will take approximately 6 seconds to come to a complete stop, and your vehicle will travel approximately the length of a football field. (60 + 60 + 170 = 290 feet). Increased speeds and weights have a significant impact on stopping distances. The more work the brakes have to do to stop the vehicle, and the more heat they absorb, the heavier it is. However, heavy vehicle brakes, tires, springs, and shock absorbers are designed to work best when the vehicle is fully loaded. Because an empty vehicle has less traction, it requires longer stopping distances. Its wheels can bounce and lock up, resulting in much poorer braking.
2. Attempt to Break Free from the Pack
The propensity of traffic groupings is to travel in a pack. Although this is OK in normal driving circumstances, it's a good idea to leave the pack and drive alone during severe weather, maintaining ample space between your rig and any other vehicle, as previously noted. Additionally, avoiding "pack style" traffic might lower your chances of being involved in a multi-vehicle collision or pile up on the interstate.
3. If in doubt, pull over.
If the weather is too bad to drive, find a safe route off the road and wait until the weather improves and it's safe to travel again. For current weather updates, read all ZONAR communications. Make sure your car has road flares and emergency triangles. Notify the Driver Manager of any weather or road difficulties.
4. Use the Jake Brake sparingly.
When the weather turns bad, many big rig drivers like to use their jake brakes. When driving on icy roads, you should avoid using your jake brake because it can cause your trailer to slide and spin out of control, which is especially dangerous when transporting an empty trailer.
5. Before leaving, double-check all systems.
It would be ideal if you always completed your circle check with great care. However, if bad weather is forecast, you must pay careful attention to your truck. Before you go, make sure your mirrors and windows are clean and clear, your brakes are correctly adjusted, moisture is drained from air tanks, and your washer fluid is full. Our winter truck driving advice also include:
- Make sure your batteries are constantly fully charged.
- Check the tire pressure and condition (PSI).
- Examine the gasoline capacity. Allow gasoline tanks to not be entirely empty.
- Check the oil and antifreeze levels, as well as the right oil viscosities.
- Check the 5th wheel assembly; it should be lubricated.
6. Fill up the fuel tanks
You want your vehicle to be as hefty as possible in order to have greater grip on ice roads. As a result, make sure your fuel tank is full, your tire pressure is proper, and you have some decent lug tires with you to make your rig as stable as possible.
7. Maintain Tractor and Trailer Lighting
Clear the snow and ice from your tractor and trailer lights on a regular basis. All lights, but especially LED lights, quickly gather crud and snow. To ensure that drivers around you can see you clearly, even in low visibility, make sure your lights are free of ice and snow.
8. Avoid Quick Actions
When driving on snow and ice, one of the worst things you can do is break or do anything at all unexpectedly. Winter driving circumstances need slowing down and maintaining a steady pace, with no rapid acceleration, turning, or braking. It's really preferable to navigate around someone else's activities than to try to halt if you need to stop due of their actions.
9. Take Note of Vehicle Tire Spray
Paying attention to other vehicles' tire spray is an useful method to measure the ice on the road. If there are a lot of sprays, the roads are probably moist but not overly ice. When there is much less spray, you can bet there is more ice on the road, so drive cautiously.
In general, when traveling in the cold, bring extra food, drink, clothes, and a heat source (if feasible) in case you become trapped. Remember the aforementioned driving guidelines to be safe even in the worst of driving conditions.
10. Winter Truck Driving Tip: Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself is critical to driving safely in winter weather conditions. Consume healthful foods while avoiding junk food. Consume modest, regular meals and snacks to maintain your energy level. Bring additional nonperishable food with you. It is vital to stay hydrated by consuming enough of fluids such as water, sports drinks, and juices, especially in cold weather and at higher elevations. Rest because your body and mind need it after driving in the snow. Stop in a safe location every now and then to stretch your legs. Take 30 minute breaks. During your 10-hour breaks, sleep. Dress warmly and have spares on hand. A thick jacket, gloves, and appropriate footwear-boots-are essential. Extra blankets, a lamp, a shovel, matches, batteries, traction device chairs, and sandbags are all good things to carry in your truck.