When traveling in colder climates, one must always be ready. Winter driving on the roads of Illinois is not the same as in Florida. One road in a city may have black ice, while a different road in a different city may have sleet or hail! No matter what winter conditions you face on the road this year, remember that it can always be different just around the corner.
With winter coming up fast, there are preventative measures that you can take now in order to be better prepared for the different wintery conditions. Check out these four winter driving tips on how new and experienced truck drivers can prep for winter driving.
1. Think Ahead and Be Prepared
Perform a pre-trip inspection to make sure your truck is ready to go. You can do an inspection by looking at your tires, wiper blades, lights, fluids, etc. This is to avoid any maintenance problems down the road or any obvious issues evident now. It is better to know now than to find out during a snowstorm or somewhere you could get stranded for a while.
Another part to think about is using fuel that is treated and blended for low temperatures. Diesel exhaust fuel can freeze at temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and low fuel tanks can trap condensation. Carry Anti-Gel or Anti-Freeze in advance for bad, cold weather.
Download the Weather Channel App or read weather reports before hitting the road so you can prepare for the day ahead.
2. Winterize Your Truck and Yourself
People around the world prep for the winter season by winterizing their homes and vehicles, and you can do the same! Prep your truck with winter necessities such as tire chains, supreme moving blankets, tow straps, recovery straps, tow hooks, and reflective vests. If you would like to learn more about tire chains, read our blog post on how to choose and use tire chains like a pro.
Other necessities you should consider carrying in your truck include flashlights, extra windshield wiper fluid, a bag of salt or sand, and jumper cables.
Along with prepping your truck for the winter, make sure to prep yourself! To stay warm and safe, invest in heavy blankets and warm bedding, gloves and scarves, thermal socks, boots with great traction, and at least a day's worth of food and water. Taking care of yourself is crucial for your health and safety, and it never hurts to pack food as a backup.
3. Use Caution
It should go without saying, but during this time you should be extra careful to follow and obey all road signs, brake lightly, and always be mindful of current conditions. These are rules created by safety authorities, and they are created for a reason: safety for yourself and those around you.
Another critical rule to recognize is to use extra caution when approaching bridges. Bridges and elevated structures are the first to freeze, and many are not treated with ice/snow melting materials like the rest of the roadways. Hold your steering wheel firmly and pay attention to the surface feel of the roads.
4. If Conditions Look Bad, Just Get Off the Road
Your safety matters more. If you feel that it doesn't seem safe to be driving, then you might be better off waiting it out. Listen to weather reports and warnings, communicate with your fleet or with fellow drivers, and react appropriately.
Want to learn more about winter safety tips for truck drivers? Consider reading these:
15 Winter Driving Kit Essentials
Winter Weather: Be Aware and Prepared