The autumn weather is becoming harsher, the air is crisp which means one thing that winter is nearly here. Yes, winter is a beautiful season with the idyllic carpet of fresh snow, warm fires and celebrating the holidays. However, for commercial refrigerated truck drivers, and all truck drivers alike know that the snowy landscape means treacherous, and sometimes severe driving conditions.

As most truckers will know operating large commercial refrigerated trucks in the winter months can be a risk. But, are you aware of how severe the risks can be in icy conditions? According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24% of all vehicle crashes and accidents[1]each year are caused due to winter-relatedweather, like sleet, snow, fog, rain, andeven wind. This is why it is essential that truck drivers prepare before winter arrives, to ensure our vehicles are fully functional to manage any issues.

How does the winter weather impact refrigerated truck drivers?

Mother Nature is not on the side of truckers during the winter months. Even the most experienced truckers are not exempt fromthe risks of severe weather conditions. Harsher weather conditions affect the capabilities of the truck and driver – including stability, traction, maneuverability, roadway conditions, crash risks (just to name a few risks). Besides the driving hazards,the colder temperatures have an impact on the trucks fuel economy in the winter months. As the tire rolling resistance on your truck increasesand reduces aerodynamic efficiency because of the icy, snowy highways.

So, to help in your preparations for a potentially brutal winter; you will find five winter driving tips for refrigerated truck drivers to keep you safe during the colder seasons.

Five Winter Driving Tricks & Tips

Prepare for the Worst

The winter weather is quite unpredictable, what may seem like a straightforward route can become a danger if the weather quickly changes. Therefore, we suggest being prepared for the worst case scenario by having an emergency winter kit like this to hand.

  • Windshield scraper, extra blades, washer fluid
  • Jump Cables
  • Tire chains
  • Sand/Salt
  • Full tank of gas (try not to start your journey with less than half a tank)
  • Essentials: charging equipment, radio (you may not have a signal), batteries, gloves, first aid kit, plenty of food and fluids, an extra jacket.

Drive Slow

Many accidents and fatalities caused in the winter months involving trucks and other motorists aredue to excessive speeds. Although it may be the legal speed limit, it is not always a safe speed during icy, snowy road conditions. Speedis a known killer in safe driving conditions, plan your route by giving yourself extra time to drive safely. Slow speeds will keep you and your fellow motorists’ safe in the winter weather.

Give yourself extra braking distance

During the harsher conditions increase the distance front and behind between your truck and other vehicles. The averagestopping distance should increase by 8-10 seconds on icy, snowy and slippery road surfaces. Be aware of the road, to avoid breakingand skidding off the road. The extra distance will give you more time to react safely.

Stay awareof your surrounding

Even on your regular routes, you need to remember the following winter trouble spots along your journey. Your regular safe route can quickly change due to snow, rain and freezing temperatures. During the winter weather, be aware of:

  • Windy areas; you will need to control your steering when you encounter strong winds.
  • Bridges; typically the first surface to freeze
  • Black Ice; sometimes tricky to spot as they look like a wetroad, remain extra alert and drive cautiously when temperatures are below or near freezing
  • Intersections: brake earlier than usual at red lights or stop signs to avoid the truck slipping off the road.

Ensure your Truck is Well Maintained

Are you aware that cold temperatures can cause diesel to thicken, become waterlogged which can potentially damage your truck’s engineand fuel system? Before heading out, we recommend that you check the following are in good or excellent working order:

  • Weather Warnings – National Weather Service[2]
  • Brakes
  • Tail Lights
  • Wipers
  • Tires
  • Mirrors
  • Treat your fuel
  • Engine

Summary

Before we leave you, and it may seem obvious as both truckers and trucking companies are legally obligated to practice and perform proper maintenance – regardless of the weather. However, we do recommend checking that your truck is well maintained to ensure it is fully functional and is able to handle the harsh winter weather conditions. For professional truckers winter is not the picturesque season when you are on the road, so please try to practice the five driving tricks for refrigerated truck drivers to help keep you safe this winter.

[1]https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/weather_events/snow_ice.htm

[2]https://www.weather.gov/

Five Winter Driving Tricks for Refrigerated Truck Drivers was last modified: by