ExpressIFTA Blog

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top 10 Winter Driving Tips for Truckers

How is the winter season panning out for you, truckers? Well I will tell you it's downright cold! I'm here in Rock Hill, South Carolina so I know I'm not experiencing "real cold", but it's cold nonetheless. The ExpressIFTA team is enduring a little ice storm here in South Carolina (nothing major, it melted by noon) and I had a realization - I haven't written any Winter Driving Tips. Here are the top tips from truckers all across the nation for driving in winter weather and staying safe...

1. Increase Your Distance From Other Drivers
This is an oldie, but goodie. When roads get bad, traffic tends to bunch up and four-wheelers get real brake happy. It is best to stay as far away from other drivers as possible.

2. Know When To Get Off The Roadway
As a professional driver, you know the warning signs of a bad roadway; spun out cars, low visibility, white out conditions, etc. Most drivers say the main warning sign of a bad road is when you see trucks spun out. When you see this or your gut is telling you the road isn't safe, it is probably time to get off the roadway.

3. A Load Is Not Worth Your Life
When conditions are dangerous and you get the sinking feeling in your gut that is telling you to find a safe place to pull over and chill out for a bit, it is a good idea to do so. No load is worth your life. Find safe parking, out of the way of other drivers, and try not to park on an incline. Parking on an incline is a quick way to find yourself stuck.

4. Keep A Good Stock Of Supplies
A winter emergency kit is something every trucker should have. If you get spun out, diesel gels, or who knows what, a winter emergency kit will hold you over until help arrives. You want to have extra blankets, protein bars (or other sustainable food that will provide nutrients), and water. Those heat packs or a personal portable heater is also great items to include. 

5. Don't Let Your Diesel Gel
If you drive through places where the temperature gets below freezing, you are probably well aware of the hazard of diesel getting to cold and turning to gel. An anti-gel additive is all you need to keep this problem from happening. It is also a great idea to keep a good stock of anti-gel additive just in case. The truck stop will most likely be out of it when you need it. 

6. Know When There Is Ice On The Road
Weather reports can't always be trusted, so if you are about to head out on the road and there is ice on your windshield, then there is ice on the road. Any amount of ice on the road is dangerous and the danger only escalates for truckers. 

7. Know The Temperature
Water will start to freeze at 32 degrees, so when you are driving in extremely low temperatures, you need to be wary.  When your diesel reaches a low enough temperature wax crystals will start to form and cause the fuel to gel.

8. Be Able To Tell If Roads Are Wet Or Icy
You can tell if roads are wet when spray is coming off the tires of the other cars. If there is no spray, but the roads are wet looking, then it is most likely ice. 

9. When It's Icy, Turn The Jake Off
When it is icy you will need braking on all your axles, not just the drives. So it is important to turn the Jake off and slow it down. 

10. Keep The Communication Lines Open
Truckers know road conditions. If you are a new driver and feeling a bit nervous, talk to a vet and get some advice. A seasoned driver will know just what to say to help keep you calm and get through it.

Driving in winter weather is sometimes inevitable. Here in the South, it's not a common occurrence, but it's good to have the knowledge just in case. Trust your instincts and stay safe out there Trucking Nation. Remember, spring isn't too far away. 

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