For many truckers, the holiday rush of shipments and higher demand is already well underway, but things will be different in the weeks ahead, as motorists begin to clog the nation's highways and byways. Even if this year's holiday season is a little more subdued due to COVID-19, you can certainly expect plenty of traffic jams in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and for those to continue right on through the New Year.
So what can a trucker do to make sure they stay safe when traffic picks up, and that other drivers don't end up affected as well? The following four ideas will help them do just that and ensure a safe and happy holiday season:
1) Give yourself extra time
First and foremost, you need to recognize that even familiar runs that often go smoothly throughout the year can be thrown into chaos by holiday traffic, according to Sage Truck Driving Schools. As such, you should certainly build a cushion of at least a few extra hours into all your trip planning, so that even when a totally unpredictable delay arises, you don't have to worry too much about how it's going to affect your ability to get to your destination on time.
2) Know the route and expected weather conditions
Along similar lines, it's important to ensure that you can account for the occasionally adverse weather you encounter on a longer drive at this time of year, according to America Truck Driving School. Snow, ice, wind and even sun glare can all contribute to accidents during the holidays, so it's important to know what kind of weather you can expect to encounter at each stage of your journey. Sometimes, problems are unavoidable, but if you have a backup plan, you might be able to stay on course without much difficulty.
3) Be patient
Again, a lot of the traffic problems you face at this time of year aren't exactly predictable, and as such it might be necessary to sometimes just grin and bear it, according to Veltri. Sitting in traffic can certainly be highly stressful if you're getting up to a deadline, there's also nothing you can really do to change your situation, and trying to drive a bit more aggressively certainly isn't the answer. This is why it's a good idea to give yourself as much of a cushion as possible, but you can only control for so much at the end of the day.
4) Carefully inspect your truck before getting behind the wheel
Finally, because snow and ice are such common problems in many parts of the U.S., you should always carefully look over your truck and do what you can to clear it off, Veltri said. That comes in addition to all the other safety measures you should take before hitting the road, from properly inflating all your tires to checking that all lights and connections are in good working order.
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