The months of January and February are rapidly approaching, and with them comes the added danger of harsh winter weather. For the average truck driver this means taking extra precautions to ensure the freight is delivered safely and on time. However, for a few drivers, it simply means carrying on the same safe driving habits they used to get through the heat of the summer months. Here is a look at some habits that can help you survive year round, and may just save your life in the winter time.
Keep Food & Water Stocked
If you have spent any amount of time on the road at all, you most likely have invested in a small cooler or refrigerator for your rig. As a truck driver, this particular piece of equipment is indispensable no matter what time of year it may be. It can be used to keep cold drinks in the summer time, as well as keeping foods fresh year round.
In the summer, it’s easy for a truck driver to remember to keep plenty of water in the cooler, as it’s hot and we are constantly thirsty. However, this is equally important in the winter time as well. Should your truck become stranded in a snow storm for several days, having plenty of bottled water is important to keeping your body able to function and drive when the storm abates.
Food that can be easily prepared in the truck is another important item to keep. Many sporting goods stores stock self heating meals, and army surplus stores often carry MREs which can be eaten directly from the package. Having these on the truck guarantees you wont be hungry if you were to get stranded.
Know The Driving Conditions Ahead Of You
The roadways can become extremely dangerous in the winter time, even in the deep south. I can’t count the number of times I have seen multi car pileups on I 285 around Atlanta, Georgia simply because too many people who did not know how to navigate icy roads decided to drive to work. Use your computer, smartphone, and CB radio to get valuable information about the roads you need to navigate to your next destination.
If you don’t have access to a smartphone or computer, other drivers coming from the direction you need to travel can often provide you with weather reports and road condition information. However, your dispatcher can also access local weather reports for the area you are heading to. Knowing what the road condition and weather is before you reach the area can help you plan your trip better.
Drive According To The Road Conditions
This may seem like common sense, but all too often, common sense could have prevented a major accident where the truck driver was found to be at fault. Knowing the road condition is a key to correctly navigating your route, but driving according to those conditions is what will actually get you to your destination safely. Reduce your speed to less than what the other “super truckers” are doing. Let them hit the ditch while you hit pay dirt.
Avoiding roads that are less travelled in favor of well kept Interstates and state highways may add miles to your trip, but they could also ensure you actually make it to your delivery point. Sometimes it is better to take the long way around simply because you know it to be better kept and safer to drive. Remember, its better to be late than not to arrive at all.
Maintain Contact With Your Family & Dispatcher
Making sure you keep contact with your family and your trucking dispatcher multiple times per day is a great way to ensure you don’t wind up in a ditch unnoticed. While calling your dispatcher may not be your favorite activity in the whole world, it just might save your life. When your manager becomes accustomed to you calling in every day at the same times, he begins to expect those calls. When you miss a call, he will wonder why. If you happen to have hit a slick spot in the road, and jackknifed your truck in a rural area, your dispatcher just may be the guy who alerts local authorities as to where you were headed and your last known location.
Keeping in touch with your family is equally important, as your wife and children will want to know you are safe. Keeping them informed of where you are and your overall condition coul also prove valuable, because a worried wife is one of the most effective people at getting local authorities to move when she calls.
Winter time driving is more than just the ice road trucking we see on television. While it’s true that a truck driver may face some harrowing situations in the winter time, the biggest danger is pride. As a truck driver it can be pretty easy to believe that you can handle anything. This kind of cocky attitude leads to poor driving habits that eventually catch up to you on the road. Use these tips to help you break those bad habits and survive the winter. After all, a truck driver has one mission in life – Get loaded, get paid, and get home. These truck driving winter tips can save your life, always be prepared.