6 Truck Driving Tips for Driving In Winter Weather

With this winter already showing her nasty side, it’s a good time for a little refresher on key truck driving tips for winter weather. Here are six reminders that will help you stay safe on the road and help those driving around you stay safer, too.

Wind exacerbates winter weather.

Wind is the enemy of big rigs any time of year, but problems are compounded when roadways are slippery with rain, ice and snow. Two truck driving tips require special consideration here:

  1. Your sail area. All that exposed trailer siding makes your truck especially vulnerable to even moderate wind. On some trucks, sail area can exceed 500 square feet. The faster you travel, the more likely you are to have trouble, because the additional wind resistance creates different pressures underneath and around your vehicle. In effect, it increases your sail area. Why court trouble? Slow down or pull off the road when it’s windy.
  2. Your weight. An empty trailer is lightest, making it most likely to be affected by wind. When you’re loading your trailer, be extra careful to distribute the weight evenly.

Don’t leave home without these necessities.  

  1. A plan. Winging it isn’t a good idea when visibility is poor and road conditions are far less than optimal. On the other hand, plotting your route in advance can help you avoid the worst weather, learn about road closures before they trap you and find back-up places to stop for the day. Check weather and traffic reports – a trucking app that lets you keep up with this information as you drive is your best bet for a safe, event-free trip.
  2. A no-stone-unturned pre-trip inspection. Winter isn’t the time for a casual stroll around your truck looking for obvious problems. The last thing you want is to get stranded in freezing cold or stuck with a wrecked vehicle because of something you could have avoided. Remember to bleed the air from your truck and trailer tanks, because freezing weather can cause condensation that could cause your brakes to freeze.
  3. Your tire chains. Are you sure you have the proper size and quantity? Double-check to be sure you have all the accessories, too – cam lock T-handles, bungee cords, a kneeling pad and warm gloves. Oh, and a good flashlight, because it can be tough to see around the wheels and you just know it will be getting dark when you need to chain up. If you do need your chains, pull all the way off the roadway to protect yourself adequately.
  4. Extra personal items. Never assume you’ll arrive at your destination on time. Even if you don’t intend to, you may have to spend the night in your cab, so make sure you have blankets as well as extra gloves, hats and snow boots, maybe even a change of clothing in case you get wet. Fully charge your cell phone before you leave and make sure you take the charger with you, and pack some bottled water and non-perishable food, just in case.

And, finally, heads up! The one guarantee about winter weather is that it’s unpredictable. Drivers of cars and other smaller vehicles are likely to be unpredictable, too, and they’re likely to be thinking of something other than your blind spots. So try to be even more alert on the road than you usually are, watching out for them as well as your own welfare. After all, your number one goal is to stay safe to drive another day.