One of the greatest tools we have as a truck driver is our judgement. We use our judgement all day and every day. The majority of people can afford a few mishaps at work once in awhile. The worst that happens to them is they may get a slap on the wrist or a formal write up of some kind. However, if we have too many mishaps or mistakes it could end up costing us our career or even a life. This article will cover some of the tools we have available to us for our winter weather driving. In this article we will be looking at many of the things you need to evaluate before, during and after your trips. We will also provide some additional winter weather driving tips as well.
The first item on the agenda when it comes to winter weather driving tools is preparation. If you are one of those drivers that is underway ten minutes after you have gotten out of bed, then we need to change this habit. Planning and pre-trip inspections are what will set you up for success during your winter weather driving campaign. One of my daily rituals in the winter is to check the weather and possibly the road report for the area I am driving in. I usually will check these two items before I hit the pillow at night and again first thing in the morning. This will give me an indication of what the roads may or may not be like. The weather is generally more reliable than the road report will be. The problem with both of these tools is that they need to be constantly updated, sometimes by the minute to be accurate. Remember, weather conditions can change on a dime so make sure you understand that the weather or the road conditions are not set in stone.
Once you have reviewed the weather and road conditions you’ll understand what you’re getting yourself into and you can plan ahead. Maybe sleep in a little bit to let the plows get out on the road or you could alter your route a little to get better winter weather driving road conditions. But, maybe it is so bad that the best option is to stay put for awhile. One thing you should remember when you are looking at a forecast is, how wide-spread the storm is. I have had plenty of times where I was only in the bad weather for three to five minutes or only one hundred miles and then it cleared up. Just because it is bad where you are at that moment does not mean that it will be bad all day. However, I have been in situations as well where the storm didn’t relent at all. This is where you need to rely on your tools and judgement to help you through the day. Remember if you get that feeling in your gut that you are doing something dangerous, it probably is!
Another great way to get information about the winter weather driving conditions is to use the CB or to phone a friend. Once you have been around the industry a while you will generally find other drivers that are where you are or where you are going. They as well will have friends that will be around the location as well. This way you can use your own little network to get the road conditions to help you make an informed decision. I even get some road condition updates from my company from other drivers in the area as well. A good professional truck driver will be well informed about the conditions he or she is going to encounter. This way they are able to make the proper adjustments and get through the adverse weather safely.
Also, don’t forget about adding some extra gear to your rig for winter weather driving season. You should be thinking about taking the time early fall to prepare yourself for winter weather driving and constantly adding and maintaining the gear you have. One of the most important actions I take is to lay out my chains and assess their condition. I don’t dump my chains in the spring to lighten my truck. I keep them on to make sure I have them for next year. Making sure they are in good repair before you start out your winter weather driving campaign is crucial. I am always hopeful though that I will not need to use the chains even though I am prepared for it. Lots and lots of extra bungee cords are a must as well, using then as a chain tool to tighten the chains around your tire.
And finally, as we referenced before in our other article “Winter Weather Driving Tips for Truck Drivers”. You need extra food, water, clothing and blankets. I was talking to one of my good friends (or maybe it was myself, not too sure sometimes after a long day on the road?) and he mentioned a few additional items we may want to consider. He said that we should consider having extra blankets just in case we need to take in a family with small children who weren’t ready for winter weather driving. Another item of mention was a few candles. If you have a few candles burning safely in your truck it should keep your sleeper and cab from freezing. Remember, don’t leave your life and the lives of the motoring public around you to chance out there. Be prepared, do good pre-trip inspections and use all the tools available to you during your winter weather driving season. As always if you have any comments, questions or concerns feel free to comment below and be safe out there!