Driving a truck in winter requires a specific set of skills – and the bigger the truck, the greater the skill required to drive it.
It’s vital that truck drivers alter their road skills when driving in poor weather conditions during the winter months.
Bad weather can bring with it icy roads, reduced visibility, poor traction and increased unpredictability from other road users. It all comes down to making good decisions and knowing when conditions are unsafe.
Here are seven tips to help truck drivers stay safe when conditions aren’t great.
1 Watch your speed: Almost every fault accident is due to the driver travelling too fast. Driving at the speed limit might be legal, but it’s a really bad idea when the road conditions are wet or icy. Take your time, don’t rush, and remember that speed can kill.
2 Create a safe buffer zone: You should always keep a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead, and this is especially true in bad weather. If visibility is low and you can see the tail lights of the vehicle ahead, you’re probably too close. Where possible try to create a buffer zone around your truck so you are travelling alone and not in a pack.
3 Use good, solid judgement: If you feel driving conditions are worsening when behind the wheel you must decide at what point you need to get off the road. Find a safe place to pull over and wait until conditions have improved.
4 Don’t stop on the hard shoulder: When visibility is poor, other drivers may mistake your position on the hard shoulder as being on the road. If so, there is a risk they could slam into the back of you.
5 Be brake smart: When the roads are icy it’s best not to overuse your foot brake unless your truck is dead straight on the road. If the truck is not straight and you slam on the brake, there is the risk the trailer could slide and spin you out of position. Essentially, the truck slows down, but the trailer doesn’t. This is especially true when the trailer is empty.
6 Check your truck thoroughly: Make sure that all systems are good go before you set off. Make all the usual checks – wipers, lights, washer fluid, air tanks, brakes, tyre pressure, windows, mirrors etc – but make sure you add defroster and heater to the checklist too
7 Be prepared: A smart trucker is always prepared for whatever the weather might throw at him or her. As well as the mandatory roadside emergency kit, make sure your truck is kitted out with winter driving essentials (blankets, warm clothes, water, a small shovel, and boots with a good grip).
Winter is on its way, so stay safe out there…