As a trucker, you face some unique risks as you traverse the nation's highways and byways, and that can be particularly true if you're in the northern parts of the country during January and February. Winter storms are a major hazard, and while getting from Point A to Point B despite that risk is certainly part of the job, that doesn't mean you can be cavalier about winter driving safety over the next few months.
A little refresher could go a long way toward setting you up for success when temperatures dip and driving risk rises:
1) Take it slow and give others a wide berth
You know that old saying, "Slow and steady wins the race," so you should keep it in mind when conditions seem especially treacherous, according to Shift into Winter. That means driving at a slower speed than usual, as well as avoiding stepping on the gas or brake pedals too hard. It also means that you should make sure you're not traveling in a cluster of other vehicles, because if something goes wrong for one driver, it can spell disaster for all the others.
2) Keep in mind that you can just pull over in bad conditions
Even if you're driving with all due caution, there are many times when discretion is the better part of valor, and you should pull over to wait until the storm passes, Shift into Winter said. Depending on where you are or the severity of the storm, that could be as short as an hour or two, or as long as a few days. But it's always better to be safe rather than sorry.
3) Pack an emergency kit that will last you a few days
If you're driving with the understanding that you might find yourself forced to pull over for hours or even days at a stretch, it's important to have the supplies on hand to keep you relatively happy and certainly healthy during that time, according to the Advanced Career Institute. That means water, food that can safely last for a few days or more, extra fuel, blankets and warm clothes, as well as something to occupy your time.
4) Remember the dangers bridges pose
If your travels take you over a bridge, as will often be the case with any sufficiently long trip, you need to keep in mind that bridges are a unique safety risk during cold weather, the Advanced Career Institute advised. They tend to freeze more quickly than other roads, and as such can be a vector for black ice and other hazards.
5) Keep an eye on components that can freeze
Finally, especially if you are getting into your truck after having parked it for several hours in frigid conditions, be aware that some components may have frozen over, according to Freight Waves. These include air tanks, brakes and more. A quick check can help you determine whether that's the case.
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