There’s a certain set of skills for driving a truck in good weather. Add snow, ice or other wintry conditions and that skillset goes up to a whole new level.
So many drivers do not adjust their driving skills according to the weather. As a result, the rest of us don’t just need to be ready for hazardous conditions, we need to be prepared for the unpredictability of other drivers, too.
Here are seven tips to help you stay safe on the roads when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
1 Be prepared
We all know when winter is on its way, but sometimes cold snaps can catch us off guard. Make sure you have all the equipment you need in your cab well before the weather changes. It sounds obvious to have an ice scraper, jump cables, torch, blanket and tyre chains on board, but you’d surprised how many drivers don’t.
2 Carry out a full inspection
Again, probably something that won’t be forgotten by most truck drivers; performing a comprehensive, hands-on inspection of your vehicle is vital – whatever the weather. Come winter, tyres, battery power, lights, exhaust and defrosters are all on the list – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
3 Drive with care
When it comes to how you drive in wintry conditions, I have two words for you: slow down! Most accidents happen because drivers are travelling too fast. National speed limits are only relevant when the conditions are fine and dry. Allow yourself more time and ease off the accelerator to give yourself more time to react if needed.
4 Allow extra space
Create a safe buffer zone around your truck, leaving plenty of room between you and the vehicles in front of and beside you. By increasing your stopping distance to at least six seconds behind the vehicle in front, you will considerably reduce the risk of being involved in an accident and keep you and your truck out of harm’s’ way.
5 Drive smoothly
Any sudden or sharp movements may cause you to lose control, so it’s vital you stay calm behind the wheel. This means braking lightly, turning corners with care and accelerating as smoothly as possible.
6 Make good use of your signals
As road conditions worsen during the winter months, it’s important to use your indicators well. That means signalling to turn before you start slowing down and allowing at least five blinks before manoeuvring.
7 Look out for hazards
On the subject of winter road hazards, I have another two words for you: black ice. When the temperature gets close to zero, black ice is a real concern for drivers. As a guide, if the road surface looks ‘wet’, there could be black ice ahead. Beware!