You’re in an unfamiliar town, trying to get back home. You still have miles to go and it’s the middle of winter. You’re traveling down a typically busy highway and it’s snowing heavily. Your line of vision is merely feet in front of your vehicle, and you can’t tell where the ice patches are. Your heart pounds a little faster than usual, because you’re depending not only on yourself, but those motorists around you. What do you do?
We don’t often think ahead and prepare for these situations as civilian drivers, but for a Commercial Motor Vehicle driver, roadway safety should be a first priority. When inclement weather strikes, preparation is everything. Not only does each state have its own rules and regulations, but we have a nationally accepted declaration of roadway safety in our hands. The upcoming winter months bring all sorts of unpredictable weather, like snow, ice, and heavy rain. It’s every motorists job to stay safe and to pay attention on any roadway. However, for a professional driver on the road it means watching their own actions and the actions of others – the job depends on it. There are so many trucker safety articles available at your fingertips. In fact, here’s another. Consider these eight inclement weather safety tips and be prepared when nature strikes this winter.
Plan your trip. It’s important that you know where you’re going, which roadways you’ll be on, and the weather conditions in each area. States and cities, even twin cities, do not always provide similar weather conditions. Know where you’re going and what you’ll need to be prepared for at all times. Being in unfamiliar places can cause confusion. Coupling that with inclement weather can be disastrous. Formulate a plan.
Service vehicle. The last thing you’ll want to do in icy, snowy, or cold, rainy weather is be stranded on the side of the road. This can cost you time, money, and business. Avoid any events that might result in malfunction while driving. Stay safe and be preemptive.
Be prepared. While traveling all over the country, especially in the middle of nowhere. Be sure to have precautionary materials with you at all times. Always have a cell phone, warning devices, snacks, water, blankets, a medical kit, and an ice scraper. Anticipate any situation.
Reduce your speed. It is very unsafe to travel at normal speeds when there is a risk of icy and slick roadways, especially if you’re on unfamiliar roads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggests slowing down by ⅓ of your speed just on wet roads. Sliding is a huge risk when it comes to any motor vehicle. Reduce your speed to limit this risk.
Use your headlights. Turning your headlights on can increase the distance by which you can see in front of you. It’s important to be aware of everything around and in front of you when traveling. Alert oncoming traffic of your presence by keeping your lights on. Stay visible.
Bring tire chains. If the regulatory 4/32 inches of tread is not offering you enough traction, you’ll need tire chains to better grip the road surface. Be sure to carry the appropriate size chain and always check them for any damage prior to using them. Make sure you are up to date on the tire chain laws in the state(s) you’ll be traveling in.
Pay attention to spacing. Be sure to keep a larger distance between yourself and other vehicles. Never drive beside other motorists and always slow down preemptively when you see traffic hold-ups. Doing otherwise risks skidding and accidents when control is lost by any party on the road. Give them space.
Watch overhead. Clearance markings aren’t always accurate when there is snow and ice present. The two can easily reduce the clearance height, making your vehicle incapable of passing. Take things slowly when approaching bridges or other clearance zones and be sure to know your vehicles limits. Be alert.
Many of these suggestions may seem simple, but when faced with high stress situations in high risk areas anyone can become entangled in their own worry. Just remain calm and truck on. Always practice safe driving, no matter the weather, and remain vigilant!