Last blog we wrote about distracted driving, often cited as the cause of accidents and about which truckers need to be particularly aware, not only for themselves but for all the drivers on the road around them. This blog we tackle another issue that concerns both professional drivers and vehicle traffic and that is, winter driving conditions. Like distracted driving, the actions of our fellow drivers often have just as much, or more, impact on truck safety than any other factor.
Service Pro Truck Lines travels across the country from Ontario to British Columbia and across North America including down to LA. Our drivers encounter just about every kind of weather condition you could imagine and safety is always our top priority. Some winter driving safety tips are region specific but others are universal. Today – we share our personal “Top 8” winter driving tips professional drivers know but that all winter drivers should be conscious of:
- Clearing the snow from around wheel wells, mirrors, and off your cab and windshield of course goes without saying. There is currently no requirement however, under the Highway Traffic Act (nor is it safe or practical) for truckers to clear snow and ice off the roof of a trailer unit. It would be virtually impossible. In Ontario at least, over a five-year period spanning 2007 – 2011, the amount of accidents allegedly caused by flying snow or ice from the top of a tractor-trailer was 0.5% of all accidents involving large trucks and none of these were fatal.
- Ensure your windshield wiper fluid is continuously topped up (as well as all other fluids) and that you’ve checked tire pressure and the condition of your tires.
- If you’re from Northern Ontario – you can legally use studded tires, remaining aware that they will have a longer stopping distance requirement where no snow/ice lies on the surface.
- In certain areas – the mountains of BC for example, chains on tires is not only recommended but required. Certain states in the US have also made it mandatory to carry chains and these include: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and South Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
- Leave room! As drivers, don’t you wish we could tell every single vehicle on the road just how much distance we need to be able to stop. We can do our part by maintaining a safe distance between vehicles but getting cut off, by a car which then gets stuck in a snow rut and spins out leaves us all vulnerable. Keeping a safe buffer zone around your truck at all times is what you should strive for. Remember your braking distance is four, to as much as ten, times greater on icy roads. Speed kills!
- As a general rule of thumb avoid using the jake break on icy road conditions. Some drivers vary on this approach but it can often lead to more problems rather than allowing for a safe stop. Applying the air brakes will place even more braking force on the drive axles and this can cause the truck to skid, slide or even jackknife.
- Keep your fuel tanks topped up as much as possible as this will give you a bit of extra weight, over the tires, which could provide a bit of needed assistance when it comes traction.
- Safety checks are mandatory before every trip but extra caution and vigilance is required during winter – for everyone’s safety.
Truck driving is hard work and professional drivers already know these tips and probably a whole lot more of them too! That said January seemed like a good month for this timely and important reminder for us all. Winter is hard enough and cold enough – don’t make it worse by being ill-prepared to handle almost any kind of weather or traffic conditions. Drive safely!
Service Pro Truck Lines – The Future of Trucking
*with various sources
*Service Pro Truck Lines writes blogs for general information purposes only and makes every effort to ensure any stated facts, applicable laws, rules and regulations are current and accurate but makes no legal representation to this effect. Always check local laws where and when you’re driving!