Earlier this week, Memphis experienced a somewhat rare occurrence: snow! It wasn’t much, but it was snow nonetheless. While this means snowball fights and hot chocolate for the kiddos, the same can’t be said for truckers. Snow, ice, and other wintery conditions present a handful of challenges for drivers, and for the logistics industry as a whole. In this article, we’ll dive into some common truck driving hazards caused by winter weather, as well as practical ways to combat them.
Slow, Smooth, & Steady
Winter weather presents a slew of conditions that compromise your ability to respond to the environment as quickly as you’d like to. These hazards include, but are not limited to, muscle stiffness, poor visibility, and slick surfaces. Whether you are walking around your truck or driving down the interstate, it’s crucial that you focus on moving slowly, smoothly, and steadily. Quick, jerky movements and winter weather do not mix nicely. This is especially true when you are climbing in and out of your truck. To prevent a painful fall, always maintain 3 points of contact. And remember, just because there isn’t ice on the road doesn’t mean there isn’t ice in other places. Always check your steps and handrails before entering the cab. It’s also important to keep these three S’s in mind when accelerating and braking your truck, as snowy or icy roads will drastically increase your stopping distance. Speaking of distance…
Mind Your Distance
We’ve previously addressed the issue of trucks’ blind spots and covered the basics of spatial awareness. With winter weather in play, it becomes exponentially more important that you maintain a buffer space around your truck. In regular driving conditions, it takes a truck at least twice the distance of a passenger vehicle to stop. If the ground is wet or slick, that distance increases even more. So, adjust your following distance accordingly to give yourself enough room to stop in case of an emergency.
Get a Grip
A whopping one million Americans are injured each year due to falls and slips, which are most prevalent during wintertime. Ice is no laughing matter, and one wrong step could put you in the hospital before you can say, “Alpaca!” To combat this winter hazard, start by giving yourself a firm foundation – wear boots with good treads and firm ankle support. As you perform your pre-trip inspection and other outdoor duties, heed to the three S’s: slow, smooth, & steady. However, your feet aren’t the only thing that might have poor traction during winter. Sometimes ice can develop under your parked tires. If this happens, try tossing some kitty litter under them. Doing this should give your tires something to grip and get you rolling.
Pro Tip: Be extra cautious of freezing rain! Freezing rain forms sheets of ice on surfaces, and may rapidly obscure your mirrors and windshield.
Whether you’re on your feet or on the road, the most beneficial thing you can do when there’s winter weather is to slow down. Always make your movements with purpose and precision. It may be the difference between avoiding an accident or not.
Read About Blind Spots | Read About Stopping Distance
Winter Driving Tips For the Trucker | A Professional Driver’s Safety Guide (smart-trucking.com)