When winter weather hits hard, trucking companies and independent truck drivers have to make the decision on whether or not to temporarily halt services. Time is money in the trucking industry, so this is never a decision that is made lightly. Typically, truck drivers will try to get in as many miles as possible to try to avoid losing too much revenue. However, handling hazardous winter road conditions can be a major safety challenge for even the most seasoned truck drivers.
Dealing with low visibility, slick roads and the unpredictability of other drivers on the road takes a lot of patience, skill, good judgement and some safety and preparation too. The tips below, combined with a comprehensive trucking liability insurance program, can help keep drivers and their cargo safe from physical and financial loss.
Inspect the Truck Before Each Trip
You can’t control road conditions and other drivers, but you can control how well you maintain your own truck. It’s important to perform an inspection before each long trip, checking the truck’s tire pressure, brakes, wiper blades, fluids and lights at the very least. In addition, drivers should pay careful attention to loading procedures to ensure their cargo has been evenly distributed within their trailer and is not likely to shift while in transit.
Always be Prepared
One of the worst things that can happen in winter is getting stuck somewhere in extreme cold and snow. Walking to safety isn’t an option and it may be hard to get assistance in the middle of a winter storm. Before heading out on a winter trip, the truck should be stocked for an emergency with things like extra warm clothes and blankets, food, water, a flashlight, extra flares and other items that can keep a driver safe and warm while waiting for help.
Drive Slower and Leave More Space
Many accidents are caused by drivers who are traveling faster than road conditions allow. When roads are slick or visibility is low, it’s important to adjust your speed accordingly and leave more space in front of the truck to give yourself ample time to stop when necessary.
Avoid Extreme Reactions
In winter weather conditions, sudden braking, sudden acceleration or sudden lane changes can cause a truck to lose traction. Along the same lines as driving slower and leaving more space, it’s important to try to make smooth movements and avoid any sudden reactions that might send a truck sliding.
Always Take a Second Look
When visibility is low, your eyes may deceive you. It can be difficult to accurately see traffic lights and signs, so before proceeding through an intersection, turning onto a freeway ramp or driving down a one-way street, etc., take a second look at the signs and signals to ensure you are making the right call.
Pull Over if Necessary
Sometimes it’s just necessary to pull over and wait out the bad winter weather. If all other safety efforts are failing, it’s time to find a safe place to park the truck until conditions are a little bit better.
About American Team Managers Insurance Services
Founded in 1998 by Chris C. Michaels, American Team Managers Insurance Services (ATM) has provided wholesale and MGA services to more than 5,000 independent insurance agents throughout the United States. Our goal is to establish close, long-term relationships with our agency partners and insurance carriers and provide competitive products for the Exclusive and Non-Exclusive markets that we serve. For more information on our products and services, give us a call at (877) 671-7503 to speak to a representative.