Driving a truck during winter can be absolutely amazing. You get to admire the beauty of the roadside scenery in peace and quiet, with little to mar the experience. However, winter is not only beautiful. It can also be dangerous or even deadly for the unprepared. So, to ensure you are as ready as possible for the challenges it presents, we offer you seven essential winter driving tips for truck drivers!
Always make sure you have the necessary supplies
The first of our essential winter driving tips for truck drivers, and one of the ways to stay healthy as a truck driver, is to ensure you have a decent backup of supplies. It would be best if you never run out of water. It is crucial to stay hydrated at every point in your route. Similarly, you want to have at least some food that you can keep stashed away, as well as some blankets and maybe even a thermos of some warm drink. You will typically not need them but if your truck breaks down or you get caught in a storm, they will be invaluable. Instead of rushing to the nearest shelter, you would be able to afford to hunker down and wait things out, which is a much less risky, and therefore preferable, option. Your safety should always, always come first.
Do not hesitate to stop if needed
One of the most essential winter driving tips for truck drivers is to always call it a day when the weather or road conditions are too horrible. The moving experts from Zippy Shell of Greater Philadelphia warn that they always try to avoid driving in such circumstances due to the risks. It is simply too easy to find yourself in a position where your life is at serious risk. Likewise, if you are sleep-deprived or feeling sick, nauseous, or similar, you should also get off the road. It would impair your ability to pay attention and massively increase the chances of accidents. So, it is always better to wait things out and get proper rest before dedicating yourself to your job, for everyone’s sake.
Watch out for ice
Ice is very tricky for a truck driver. It can form very quickly with little to no warning. And, in poor visibility conditions, it is nearly impossible to spot it before you are already driving over it. Similarly, it is possible to encounter ‘black ice’. This term refers to a very thin layer of transparent ice that is impossible to spot. The only way to know there is danger ahead is by paying attention to the temperature outside and your windshield. If it is below zero, expect at least some signs of ice. And, if a thin layer of ice is building up on your windshield, the same holds true again. This is what makes ice one of the most dangerous things for truckers. It makes the challenges to expect in the trucking industry in 2022 a piece of cake.
You should dress in layers and wear good boots
If you know how to appropriately dress for the weather, it becomes easier to withstand it. Things can often get cold during winter when you are a truck driver. Not inside your truck, admittedly. It should stay warm and cozy throughout. However, you will still need to occasionally get out of it. Or there may be an emergency or an accident, so it is better to always be ready. Even truck drivers who work for moving companies use different strategies for moving during this season, even if they cover much shorter distances! So, make use of layers! Wearing multiple layers of clothing traps the heat close to you and prevents its loss, letting you warm up faster and stay warm longer.
Maintain distance between your vehicle and others
When starting a career as a truck driver, you can expect that it will take you some time to learn how to maintain the right distance between your vehicle and others on the road. However, things shift a little during the winter season. It would be best to always maintain a longer distance between you and other vehicles. A truck is a massive, powerful beast. In case of any slipping over ice or similar issues caused by road conditions, you would have a harder time stopping than in a smaller vehicle. Even just trying to break without any emergency would take you further along than you might expect. As such, until you are absolutely sure you can adequately gauge the required distance, and maybe even then, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Keep an eye on your diesel
Something to keep in mind is that diesel is sensitive to cold. If things get glacial, you run the risk of your fuel condensing and causing a whole litany of problems for your vehicle. It is crucial to use anti-gel additives during the cold season. Such additives are typically added before refueling your truck, allowing the diesel to properly mix with it during the process. It will typically work well and ensure you suffer no problems caused by low temperatures. Still, it is only wise to be extra careful anyway. You might also want to stock up on it ahead of time so you do not end up running out if a particular gas station does not have it available.
Inspect your truck regularly
The final of our essential winter tips for truck drivers is to always be extra mindful of your machine during the winter months. Cold has a whole host of harmful effects on vehicles. And for something as massive and complex as a truck, you do not want anything to break down. Give it regular checks between long stretches of road. And if anything is bothering you, or you think sometimes might be wrong, it’s better to have a professional take a look than to ignore an issue.
Now that you have gone through our seven essential winter driving tips for truck drivers, you should be well-prepared! Remember to always prioritize your health and safety instead of rushing things!
Stephen Forth is an experienced trucker and highway inspector. He has started writing blog posts on the subjects he is familiar with to help share the knowledge he has accumulated.