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Driving safely in colder temperatures

11/30/2017

Take some extra precautions in cold weather.

In many parts of the country, snow is the inevitable by-product of the season. It can be great fun to drive through white, sparkling landscapes, and it can also add some challenges to the work of those who spend their lives on the road. All truckers know that they may end up on snowy routes, and most of these individuals have a lot of experience with such conditions. Yet snow can sneak up when driving across the country; one minute the road is great, the next it's a whiteout. So when temperatures drop and the white stuff starts to fall, it's time to take some additional precautions and be ready for roads in colder weather.

Think of the worst-case scenario and be prepared
No one wants to imagine truly dire weather conditions, but you should be ready for the worst possible storm - just in case. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said commercial operators should have a heavy jacket, thick gloves and a warm hat with them, no matter where in the country their journey begins. Pack a coat that is heavy enough to get through the night in addition to a thick sleeping bag, warm socks and long underwear. It is always a good idea to pack snacks, but drivers heading out into the cold should also have extra food and water on hand in case they are stuck overnight. Dehydrated mixes, a small camping stove and plenty of protein-filled edibles will tide you over, should you be forced to stop and wait out a storm.

The DMV also said that drivers should ensure their trucks are in top shape and refrain from driving in bad weather with less than a half a tank of gas.

Stay connected on your smartphone
While it is important to have driving apps to alert you to general traffic conditions, it is also advisable to download weather-related apps. This way, you can check patterns for belts of severe storms to determine whether or not to head out from a comfortable rest area or wait for them to pass. You can also better communicate with your carrier and anyone at your final destination if you know what the weather will be doing; this way, you may not be penalized for any delays should they occur.

Watch your driving
A Smart Trucking blog post strongly advised drivers to slow down if they run into snow and ice. Being safe is more important than speeding along the highway; not only are truckers responsible for themselves and their cargo, but also they need to be aware of others on the road. Drivers should also maintain a safe distance between other vehicles in case they slide or stop suddenly.

Ultimately, the source said, truckers need to use good judgment. It is better to get off the road and potentially be a bit late to your destination than to drive when the conditions are simply dire. No one wins any prizes for being the hero, and you may save the lives of others and yourself if you choose to stop early for the night.

Experience is key to handling a truck in snowy and wintry conditions. If you are new to driving, see if you can take shorter routes in poor weather to be accustomed to handling the vehicle before taking longer trips across the country. No matter what, it is important to stay alert, be patient and take care of yourself when the weather gets hairy. Over time, you'll become more confident in handling harsh conditions. Just always be prepared.

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