A row of commercial trucks parked in the snow.

Winter Creates Safety Challenges For Truck Drivers

Safety Tips During the Winter Months

Handling winter conditions can be a major safety challenge for any professional truck driver. Slippery roads, low visibility and the unpredictability of other vehicles mean that a truck driver will need to apply skill, knowledge and good judgment to safely navigate treacherous roads. But before getting behind the wheel, you’ll need to prepare the tractor-trailer.

Safety First

There’s nothing more important to a professional truck driver than safety. Before heading out on the highway, consider checking some of these items.

  • Wiper Blades: Ice can cake up on your windshield and ruin even a new pair of blades. Carry a spare set.
  • Kitty Litter: If you’re forced to pull off during a snowstorm, the warmth of your tires could melt the snow they rest on. That liquid will likely freeze later. Carry a bag of environmentally-friendly kitty litter to help gain tire traction.
  • Check Lights: Snow accumulation can block your lights from other drivers’ visibility. Keep them clear.
  • Fuel Treatment: Freezing temperatures can negatively affect diesel fuel. Consider using an anti-gel in extremely cold weather.
  • Supplies: In the event of a breakdown, carry extra blankets, gloves, food, and water. Adopt the Boy Scouts’ motto — “be prepared.”

Slippery Conditions

Snowstorms and freezing rain can create hazardous road conditions. As a truck driver, you’ll need to anticipate problems and take every precaution while driving on slippery roads. Consider these strategies.

  • Slow Down: Icy roads mean less tire traction. Regardless of the legal limit, the faster your drive, the longer it will take to stop. Speed also makes lane changes more dangerous.
  • Buffer: Although many drivers tend to bunch together, the last thing a tractor-trailer operator wants is to be close to other vehicles. Keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles based on road conditions.
  • Trouble Areas: Take notice of areas that can pose unique dangers. Exit ramps can have unexpectedly sharp curves and cause skidding. Bridges are among the first areas to freeze. If a road looks wet when the temperature is below freezing, it’s most likely black ice. Intersections can be problematic because drivers from other directions may skid through red lights.
  • Slippery Inclines: When climbing a slippery hill, gradually increase power so you don’t spin the wheels. Don’t follow in another truck’s tracks. They may have created packed snow.
  • Slippery Declines: Go straight and as slow as possible. Excessive speed can only create a potential hazard.

Above all else, exercise good judgment when driving in icy conditions. Stay safe!

 

Here at Georgia Driving Academy, we make sure that safety is one of the key parts of our CDL Training. GDA offers Class A and Class B CDL Training in two convenient locations. 

*This blog was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated to industry standards.*