Here are some helpful winter driving tips for drivers during the winter:
- Be Prepared – it is important to make sure that you are prepared for any situation before you start driving. Make sure you have these items on hand:
○ De-icer and scraper
○ Putty knife and hammer
○ Shovel and a bag of salt, sand or kitty litter
○ Tire chains
○ Jump cables
○ Warm clothes and blankets
○ Food and water
- Inspect Your Vehicle – make sure your truck is prepared for winter. Check your tire pressure, lights, engine oil and antifreeze levels before you hit the road. If there are any problems that you cannot fix, notify a mechanic immediately
- Check Your Trailer Tires – drivers should check their trailer tires often. Keep in mind that the brakes were warm when the last driver dropped that trailer, make sure the wheels are turning. If the brakes are frozen here are possible issues drivers should check:
○ Frozen valve – if this is the case pour some methyl hydrate through the system to melt it.
○ Shoes frozen to the drums – if this happens, gently tap the drum with a hammer with the red button pushed in.
- Check Your Air Tanks – drivers should have a putty knife and hammer with them during the cold months to chisel ice away from unwanted places. Air tanks can freeze, so after driving in the snow, drivers should make sure there is no snow packed into the air tanks. Heat from the motto might melt the snow, but compressed air is cooler and any snow that does melt will likely turn to ice.
- Treat Your Fuel – cold temperatures can cause diesel to gel and prevent a truck from running. Stock up on anti-gel in advance of bad weather so you do not get stuck looking for it when bad weather hits and other drivers buy it all.
- Know The Current Weather Forecast For Your Route, And Yesterday’s Temperatures – Yesterday’s temperatures give you a good indication on how soon the precipitation will stick to the road. If the temperature drops overnight the roads could be slick with ice. Knowing what to expect can prepare you to stay safe.
- Slow Down – most accidents that happen on the road this time of the year are due to excessive speed. Driving the speed limit may be legal, but even that could be too fast if the road is covered in snow and ice. Take your time to make sure you and your freight get to your destination safely.
- Give Yourself Extra Space – on wet roads the stopping distance is twice the normal stopping distance, and on icy roads it can be almost ten times as much. Leave plenty of room in between your truck and vehicle in front of you so you have enough room to maneuver out of the way of dangerous situations.
- Watch Out For Black Ice – black ice is a thin transparent layer of ice that makes the road look slightly wet. Look for these signs of black ice:
○ Build up of ice your truck’s mirror arms, antennae or the corners of your windshield.
○ Spray from tires on the vehicles in front of you; if the spray stops, be aware of the possibility of black ice.
- Use Your Best Judgement – if the conditions of the roads make you nervous, the best option is to get off the roads. If you need to pull off the road, make sure to notify your Driver Support Specialist.