The National Weather Service has forecasted heavy rain, mountain snow, and strong winds in the West for the next few days. There is a series of storms that will affect the PNW and northern California, with several winter weather advisories and storm warnings in effect.

As many seasoned truck drivers know, these conditions posses a set of driving challenges unique to this time of year. To assist our drivers in staying safe this winter, we have complied a list of the most effective winter driving tips:

1) Do a Pre-Trip Inspection for Winter Driving

Make sure to do a pre-trip inspection before each trip. Although this is a year-round recommendation, this is even more important during the winter months. We recommend you inspect your vehicle more frequently if conditions are bad, and take some extra precautions:

  • Make sure the weight of your load is evenly distributed. Icy roads can lead to product shifting.
  • Treat your fuel. Freezing temperatures often cause fuel to congeal; treat your fuel with an anti-gel once the cold weather hits.
  • Ensure your windows, mirrors, headlights, brake lights and hazard lights are free of dirt, ice, and snow whenever you stop.

2) Prepare for the Worst

The weather might be fine when you head out on the road, but conditions can quickly change, especially on the mountain passes. Make sure you are always prepared for the worst-case scenario. Have these items on hand:

  • Winter essentials: flashlight, batteries, gloves, rain gear, extra jacket that is warm enough for night temperatures, first aid kit, extra fluids and food.
  • Windshield scraper/brush, extra set of blades, washer fluid.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Tire chains.
  • Sand/salt/cat litter; this can help keep your tires from spinning if you get stuck.
  • Plenty of gas. The extra weight of a full tank will make it easier to control your vehicle; try not to ride with less than half a tank.
  • Electronic charging equipment. If you do get stuck, you want to make sure you can contact all interested parties to let them know of your situation.

3) Drive with Caution

An obvious, but very important tip. Remember to give yourself time so that you have full control and can avoid skidding. Allow for more space between other cars and trucks, and accelerate and brake slowly. Ice and snow decrease the traction of your tires, and sudden stops are more difficult. When in traffic, decrease your speed and increase your following distance to allow for more reaction time and to make hydroplaning less likely. If you need to adjust your speed frequently based on conditions, it is a good idea to turn off your cruise control. Sudden braking can cause you to lock your truck and skid. If you do begin to skid, remember these tips:

  • Pump the brakes – locking up your brakes will make things worse.
  • Shift to neutral.
  • Control the truck by turning the wheel in the direction of where you’d like to go.
  • At the end of the skid, put the truck in gear instead of coming to a stop.
  • Accelerate slowly to keep your traction.

4) Watch for Winter Driving Typical Trouble Spots

Rain, snow or below freezing temperatures make roads dangerous. In bad weather, take extra caution when you encounter:

  • Black ice – this transparent ice often looks like nothing more than a wet road. Look for these spots when temperatures are near freezing.
  • Intersections – brake early when you see stop signs or red lights.
  • Exit ramps – a turn that’s too sharp or taken at too high of a speed could cause you to lose control.
  • Bridges – these surfaces are the first to freeze.
  • Windy areas – you will need more control of steering corridors with strong winds.

5) Sign Up for Weather Alerts & Maintain Contact 

By signing up for weather alerts on your smartphone, you might be able to avoid changing conditions by altering your route (just remember, these conditions can change suddenly). This could also help you to avoid traffic delays or road closures, which can cause big setbacks. Here’s a list of our most checked State DOT sites:

Remember, if you are on one of our loads, contact the UWT CSR department, on our trucker dedicated line (877-273-7400); they would be happy to help you with up to the minute highway conditions, mountain pass updates, or anything else. If any emergency does occur, don’t let anxiety get the best of you; stay calm, make a call if possible, and stay inside; leaving your truck to look for help is very dangerous.

5 Effective Winter Driving Tips for Drivers was last modified: by