Every experienced trucker knows that the winter season OTR can be dangerous and exhausting.
Roads become more dangerous, days become shorter, cold kicks in and from the moment it starts you can’t wait for it to end.
During winter your trucking skills come to test. Everything becomes more challenging and your senses sharpen when you are behind the wheel.
Driving in bad weather, especially in snow and on ice, is risky due to more ‘stop time’ required, poor visibility, poor traction and the increased unpredictability of other drivers on the road. The difficulty increases if you’re driving semi-trailer truck.
First, check your equipment
Winter demands more care for your truck, so that means you have to have proper equipment such as:
Cold-wather clothing – you don’t want to find yourself in freezing weather without it. Since you are OTR, you will basically need clothing for all seasons.
Fuel additives: Because diesel fuel can gel in really low temperatures due to hydrocarbon, you should use winter blend fuel along with anti-gel additives.
Other truck equipment: chains, flash light, shovel, enough coolant.
How to behave on the road
- First and foremost, slow down. As it is known, during winter, and all other seasons, speeding is the number one cause of all the accidents. Even if speed limit signs show that you can drive 65 MPH, don’t let that be your guide during winter season. Having the truck at that speed on the icy or snow-covered road can be extremely dangerous. As a lot of people say, trucks traveling 65 MPH will take up to two football fields to stop, so if you’re trying to stop at that speed on icy road, it will definitely take you more space and time.
- Keep the distance- leave enough room between your truck and the one in front of you. The safe distance is ¼ mile. Also, know that when snow is heavy, visibility is low. So that means if you see tail lights of the vehicle ahead, you’re probably too close.
- Don’t make stops on the shoulder of the road when it’s snowing heavily because other drivers might make a mistake thinking you are on the road.
- Keep all of your lights clean so other vehicles can see it clearly.
- Inspect your truck more often – It is the DOT requirement that you have to do a pre-trip vehicle inspection. The minimum is 15 minutes, but professional drivers know that 15 minutes isn’t enough. Make sure you check everything thoroughly. If possible, make additional vehicle inspections when you are taking breaks. This is the best way to avoid problems on the road.
- Be well rested – Since you have to be extra focused while driving with bad visibility and slippery terrain, you cannot let yourself be fatigued while driving. If you feel drowsiness and fatigue, find the closest truck stop and take a small break, have a coffee, and proceed with driving if you’re feeling better.
Stay safe on the road!