Driving a truck carrying heavy equipment and machinery can be challenging even on ordinary days and with expert drivers. Significant snow and ice storms can be hazardous for truck drivers to venture into to deliver their loads from place to place. Reduced traction on icy roads and poor visibility are just a few of the added stressors for drivers.
Keep your truckers safe this winter by reminding them of these safety precautions.
Hazards of Heavy Hauling in Winter
There are a variety of hazards that can present themselves while on the way. Identifying potential issues is crucial to providing winter driving tips for your truckers to remain prepared for any unexpected event.
Here are some of the concerns drivers need to be prepared for when hauling in winter:
- Freezing temperatures: Frigid temperatures are perhaps the most dangerous aspect of heavy hauling during the winter season. The cold amplifies existing issues with the vehicle and can lead to reduced battery power, poor performance, rough idling, and a higher chance of a breakdown.
- Unpredictable weather conditions: The weather is unpredictable even in the best of times. The winter, however, can ramp up the risks by sending a blizzard into the transport route. It can make the roads even more treacherous and reduce visibility.
- Ice and snow: Another danger to watch out for is black ice. What makes it particularly hazardous is that it’s invisible. The road looks clear, which makes accelerating, turning, and braking extremely risky. Snow can also add to the risk that ice presents while compounding it with visibility issues.
- Equipment failure: While this is not limited to wintertime, subzero temperatures and low visibility can aggravate the problem. It will be challenging to call for help or acquire any parts or tools if you don’t already have them ready. Make sure you have the proper tools for the road.
- Inspect the vehicle: The equipment being transported is not the only thing that needs to be winterized. Prevent any issues by checking the vehicle before hitting the road, such as your engine oil, antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid levels, tire pressure, brakes, heater, defroster, lights, windows and mirrors.
- Tie-down points: To keep your load secure
- Hydraulic hoses: For any deterioration or leaks
Winter Driving Safety Tips for Truckers
- Be mindful of weather conditions: This goes for both the current weather and the previous day’s. Knowing what road conditions you can expect can help you stay safe. Pay particular attention to whether it rained the previous day, followed by a temperature drop overnight. The roads may be covered in slick ice.
- Dress appropriately: The priority is to stay warm. However, when it comes to boots, another thing you need is good traction to help you avoid slip and fall hazards. Here are a few things a trucker needs for their ensemble:
- Driving gloves
- Thick winter jacket or coat
- Lined hat
- Thermal underwear
- Thick insulated socks (along with extra pairs in case they get wet)
- Lined winter boots with rubber soles
- Pack the essentials: One good rule of thumb to follow is: err on the side of caution. When in doubt, it’s “better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” Be sure that the truck driver is equipped with:
- First aid kit
- Extra blankets or sleeping bag (for extra warmth)
- Food rations and water
- Flashlight (rechargeable)
- Mobile phone, charger, and power bank
- Bag of sand, road salt, or cat litter (for traction)
- Propane heater or butane lighter (for heat or to keep food warm)
- Jumper cables
- Hammer and putty knife
- Windshield scraper
- Windshield antifreeze
- Anti-gel fuel additive (to keep the fuel flowing in cold weather)
- Tire grips or chains
- Spare winter tires
- Secure the load: Ensure that the load is evenly distributed and adequately secured to prevent damaging equipment or tipping the truck off balance. This also prevents other incidents like injuries, equipment loss, hazardous chemical spills, and fatalities.
- Don’t drive: If weather conditions are extreme. Remain at the location. Contact your superiors and inform them of the situation so that they can reschedule the delivery.
- Drive slowly: When on snow or ice-covered roads, driving the speed limit can be dangerous. Slow down and be careful of black ice.
- Keep a safe distance from other vehicles: Stopping distance on a wet road is twice the average stopping distance – on icy roads, it’s almost ten times. Try to keep away from large groups of vehicles. Don’t follow too closely. If you see the vehicle’s tail lights in front of you (especially if there’s snow), you are too close. If possible, try to leave ample room between you and the vehicles on either side of the truck.
- Clean the windshield: Make sure that you can see where you are going or if there’s anything ahead of you or beside you. Warm the glass by turning on the defroster. Use the windshield fluid to help melt the ice and clean the windshield.
- Inspect your tail lights: It’s equally important to be seen on the road as it is to see. For your safety and the safety of others, you need to remain highly visible at all times. Bad winter weather can cause snow and ice to build up over your lights. Every time you stop, check your taillights to make sure they are not covered in snow and clean them if they are not so that you can be seen.
- Check air tanks: Sometimes, the heat from the motor is not enough to melt the snow on your air tanks. Use a hammer and putty knife to remove any ice or snow that has accumulated.
- Brake with care: Avoid excessive use of the foot brake if the entire vehicle is not straight on the road. Do not use the compression release engine brake (or jake brake) when the streets are ice-covered.
Blizzard Safety Tips
Incidents like a blizzard or a storm can happen at any moment. Don’t push your luck if it becomes much too difficult to see or drive at minimum speed. Find a safe place to park your vehicle and wait until it’s safe. Here are some blizzard survival tips:
- Stay warm: Use those extra blankets. Do some exercises, like pushups. Turn the engine on every once in a while (about 10 minutes every hour).
- Remove snow from the exhaust pipe: Leave a window slightly open for ventilation. This can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Stay hydrated: Keep your body hydrated and eat healthy foods.
Trust Your Instincts
One thing you must not forget is to rely on your judgement. Only continue to drive so long as you feel comfortable. While this may mean a loss of time, driving with caution can prevent further losses.