10 Winter Driving Tips for Commercial Truck Drivers

Posted on Dec 17, 2019
10 Winter Driving Tips for Commercial Truck Drivers

When winter arrives, commercial truck driving in the snow can become a challenge.

Twenty-one percent of vehicle accidents are due to bad weather, according to the Department of Transportation. To help, below are 10 winter driving tips for truck drivers.

1. Mind Your Speed

When driving a tractor trailer in snow, you might face certain weather related risks. This is where you should use common sense. In cases like these, the posted speed limits won’t make sense. The posted speed limits are based on ideal driving conditions, not questionable bad weather conditions. Therefore, while on the road, be mindful of the weather and take drivers driving at slower speeds into account while you’re scheduling delivery times and planning out your routes.

2. Watch for Black Ice

Black ice is a hazardous road condition. It’s a thin, transparent layer of ice that forms when the temperatures outdoors are close to freezing and can make roads look wet. Don’t assume the road is simply wet just because the sun is out. Black ice is hard to spot, so when the temperatures are getting close to freezing, check for small clues like:

  • The tires on the vehicles in front of you will stop spraying water
  • A build-up of ice on a truck’s antenna, mirror arms or the top corners of their windshield

3. Accelerate and Brake Lightly

In bad weather, don’t do anything forcefully. When appropriately used, anti-locking braking systems (ABS) are a good thing. The ABS keeps the tires from locking, which enables you to steer around obstacles. When you have to slow down fast in slippery conditions and your vehicle isn’t equipped with ABS, try pumping the brakes lightly, which will reduce the risk of your tires locking and spinning out of control.

4. Inspect Your Vehicle

Preparing your trucks for winter is vital in preventing major issues. Before hitting the road, check the engine oil, tire pressure, and antifreeze levels. You could also hire a mechanic to inspect your trucks to ensure they’re ready for the harsh winter hazards and wear and tear. Don’t forget to remove snow and ice from your truck’s roof. It’s the law!

5. Maintain a Safe Distance Between your Vehicle and the One in Front of you

Maintain a safe buffer zone between your truck and the vehicle in front of you and around your vehicle. Don’t follow the vehicle’s taillights ahead of you too closely. When there is heavy snow and low visibility, if you can see the vehicle’s tail lights ahead of you clearly, you could be following too close.

6. Be Cautious Regarding Team Trucking

When there’s nasty weather, it’s appealing to drive in numbers, and the drivers taking similar routes might try to caravan, particularly long-haulers. It’s thought that if a driver is in distress, the drivers would be together and can help.

However, multiple trucks that travel in a close row during wintery conditions can actually increase the risk of an accident due to the chain reaction potential.  It’s smart to travel together, just make sure that you leave plenty of distance between vehicles.

7. Keep Clean Tail Lights

Remind your drivers how important preventative maintenance is during the winter season, particularly with tail lights. After a nasty storm, when drivers are getting back on the roads, the tail lights of the trucks might be caked with ice and snow, making it difficult for other drivers to know the intentions of the driver.  Clean them off and check their visibility before heading out.

8. Keep a Firm Grip on The Wheel

To maintain control, keep a sturdy grip on the steering wheel. To guide a semi-truck in snow, both hands should be on the steering wheel at all times.

9. Watch Out For Bridges

Highway overpasses, bridges, and other elevated surfaces freeze quicker than the regular road. Also, they might not have salt on them. Use caution when you approach bridges, so you don’t spin out of control if you hit black ice.

10. Review your Commercial Truck Insurance

Winter is the perfect time for reviewing your commercial truck insurance policy. Ensure your trucks have the proper damage and rental coverage. If there’s an accident, these coverages could help cover the costs of replacements and repairs.

The right truck insurance can ensure you’re not paying too much out-of-pocket and can start driving again quicker.

Reach out to Otterstedt Insurance Agency at 201-227-1800 for your commercial truck insurance and other business insurance needs.

Whether you operate tow trucks, semi’s, tractor-trailers, or some other type of truck, we offer the protection your organization needs for your fleet.

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