“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” That’s right—wintertime is coming up and it’s a time to look forward to big jackets, snow fights, hot chocolate, and cozy fires. But with the season also comes unfavorable driving conditions. Even for the most experienced truck drivers, winter can present a relatively icy and potentially dangerous situation. As Jack Frost begins to make his presence felt, take a look at these 10 winter driving tips from Smith Transport as a reminder to keep you and other drivers safe.
1. Ice Ice Baby
Ice-skating, ice sculptures, and ice cream: we love these forms of ice, but not on the road.
Since you can remember, you have been taught that water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius and 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you won’t have to look at a thermometer to know if ice is on the road. If there’s ice on your windshield, more than likely that means that there’s ice on the road. Think ahead to make preparations before you hit the road.
2. Treat Your Diesel
Keep in mind that your diesel will turn into a gel when it gets down in the low temperatures. When your diesel solidifies into gel, your truck will not run. The best practice is to treat your diesel with an anti-gel additive before you put fuel into the truck so that it will effectively mix.
Another best practice is to go ahead and stock up at your local automotive store so you won’t have to risk the truck stop being out.
3. Keep It Steady
When there is ice on the road, the traction is drastically reduced. However, you can make up for the lack of traction by driving slower, following other vehicles at a greater distance, and making your changes more gently. In addition, you will have much more time to react if you are traveling at a slower speed.
4. Slow Your Roll
With driving slower in mind, pay special attention to making abrupt stops and starts when there is ice on the road. In cases where you must slow down, it’s better to lightly pulse your brakes with the ball of your foot. This practice will help prevent your brakes from locking up and losing control.
5. Carry a Winter Driving Kit
One of the best practices is to always be prepared, and your winter driving kit is your first step toward preparation. Here are a few key items you should have in your kit:
- Extra gloves and warm / rainy weather clothing
- Flashlight, batteries, and vacuum sealed food for longevity
- A First-Aid kit
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- A bag of salt or sand
- Jumper cables
- Traction mats or tire chains
6. Conduct Pre-Trip Checkups
We always encourage pre-trip checkups before drivers hit the road. If you take a few minutes before each trip to ensure your truck is in the best possible condition, you’ll feel reassured knowing you checked the equipment. The outcome of safer roads and reduced chance of technical problems is well worth it, especially during the colder months.
7. Follow, But Don’t Ride
As a truck driver, you should always leave a little extra room to maneuver if the driver in front of you makes a sudden erratic movement. When the roads are icy, those erratic movements are multiplied. In effect, you should increase your following distance to 8 – 10 seconds.
8. Spray Means No Ice
You can also pay attention to the type of precipitation that’s coming off other drivers’ vehicles. When spray is coming off of their tires that means the road isn’t iced over. However, wet roads also present their own set of hazards so be cautious.
9. Monitor the Warning Signs
Nothing screams danger for drivers more than others ahead of you pulled off to the median or shoulder in bad weather. When you see this, you should also pull off the road. You know the phrase: better safe than sorry!
You can also use your mobile device to look up weather maps. *Only use a handheld device when your truck is stopped.*
10. Talk About It
Fortunately, as a Smith Transport driver, you are connected to a large network of drivers who are willing to provide the road conditions. Take advantage of this benefit. Don’t be afraid to ask experienced drivers questions and ask for their advice.
Do you want to drive equipment that’s second to none, be part of an elite fleet, and develop personal relationships with colleagues rather than being “just a number”? If so, Smith Transport may just be the perfect home for your talents as a professional driver. Give one of our recruiters a call at 866.265.3718 or take a moment to apply online.