During the early morning hours of December 21, the northern hemisphere will be at its furthest point from the sun, marking the beginning of the winter season. As a professional truck driver, this ultimately means winter weather that has to be accounted for. You may not have learned a lot about winter driving if you went to CDL school in California or Florida, but winter can be a real issue for drivers in many parts of the country.
The operative word for winter truck driving is ‘caution’. In other words, drivers should approach their daily journeys with the understanding that winter weather creates more risks. There are more opportunities for lost traction, poor steering, and loss of controlled braking. A cautious driver is one who anticipates trouble and adjusts driving habits accordingly.
Professional truck driver should always remember to:
- Slow Down – Speed is one of the biggest problems when driving in winter weather. Truck drivers already need significant time and space to stop their vehicles under ideal conditions; they need even more in winter driving conditions.
- Leave Extra Space – Hand-in-hand with slowing down is leaving more space between vehicles. Whatever the amount of space a driver normally leaves between his/her truck and other cars should be doubled when snow and ice are in play.
- Clear the Windshield – There is never a good reason to hit the road without an unobstructed view. Drivers should clear the windshield of all snow and ice before departure; wiper fluid tanks should be full, too.
- Carry Chains – Any driver who routinely travels through areas requiring chains should carry his/her own chains on board. Relying on chain banks is never a good idea inasmuch as heavy traffic can leave a driver waiting for hours to get a set. That is lost time in addition to bad weather.
Other Winter Driving Tips
In addition to those extra measures taken behind the wheel, there are other things to consider as well. For example, it is always a good idea to plan your route before you leave along with additional alternate routes in case winter weather gets in the way. Regardless of the route chosen, knowing where truck stops and other safe havens are makes for a less worrisome trip as well.
As far as the truck is concerned, having it winterized by a professional is a good idea. Big rigs are tough machines that can handle extreme conditions, but winterizing is an extra step that can help the driver avoid mechanical nuisances that only slow down travel and impede delivery schedules.
Cautious Drivers Are Safe Drivers
At the end of the day, cautious drivers tend to be safe drivers who reach their destinations with fewer problems. Caution where the weather is concerned is all about keeping an eye on forecasts and having plans in place to deal with unfavorable conditions. Caution behind the wheel means slowing down, watching your distance between vehicles, and driving defensively.
Winter will officially begin on December 21. But winter weather will set in much earlier in some areas. So get ready now. And above all, make an effort to refresh your memory on safe driving practices. Being ready for winter weather before it hits is the best way to be prepared for its eventuality.