It should come as no surprise to truckers — or any other motorists, for that matter — that it's more dangerous to drive during the winter months. Frigid weather, snow, ice, high winds and fewer daylight hours can all come together to make road conditions hazardous. As such, you have to know how to keep yourself and others safe as you traverse the nation's highways and byways, even if you've been a pro hauler for decades.
Brushing up with the following tips is always a good idea:
1) Always give your vehicle a careful once over
You should be more than accustomed to inspecting all aspects of your truck before you hit the road, but doing so is even more important in winter, according to GPS Trackit. Make sure all the lights work, the tires are in good shape, your fluids are topped off and so on.
2) Drive slowly — especially at night
Speeding is a big no-no for truckers in general, but here too, the winter weather makes it even more dangerous, GPS Trackit warned. Particularly at night, it's not easy to see how deep a puddle may be, or to spot black ice, so slow and steady will definitely work well for you this season.
3) Take it easy on the pedals
Along similar lines to proceeding slowly, it's also a good idea to make sure you ease your way into accelerating or braking, GPS Trackit further cautioned. When roadways are slippery, slamming on the gas or brakes can be a recipe for disaster.
4) Clear snow from your entire truck
We've all been behind that careless driver who doesn't clear all the snow or ice off their vehicle, and watched as they sent debris flying dangerously all over the road — so don't be "that guy," according to Schneider. As best you can, make sure there's no snow or ice accumulates on your truck or trailer. It's just common courtesy, and keeps everyone safer.
5) Check the weather
Winter weather can develop into a problem rather quickly, so it's always a good idea to check the forecast for every part of your trip, Schneider added. A little knowledge in advance will help you know exactly how, where and when you should be traveling down the highway.
6) Give yourself space
It's typically advisable to avoid driving in a "pack" of other cars when you can, but it's critical to sidestepping problems during the winter, according to Smart Trucking. A few extra car lengths' worth of space can be the difference between a scary situation and another safe trip.
7) Pack some sand or kitty litter
Especially when you're parking overnight, you never know when your truck might get stuck in some stubborn snow, so you need all the traction you can get, Smart Trucking said. Packing an extra bag of sand or kitty litter could be just what you need to get out of a tough situation.
8) Know when to stay off the roads
Finally, while you're right to be worried about deadlines, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, Smart Trucking advised. No matter how pressing a delivery may be, it's occasionally safer to remain parked rather than drive through particularly harsh conditions.
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