Safe winter truck driving is not only crucial for the well-being of the driver but also for the safety of everyone on the road. It requires a combination of preparation, caution and adaptability. To do that, it’s important to know what challenges a driver is most likely face, and we’ll dig into that right here.
However, before we get into the obstacles truck drivers face during the winter, whether you're a business owner or a driver yourself, we encourage you to sign up for our free, Safe Winter Truck Driving Best Practices Webinar, happening Dec. 5 at 3:00 PM (EST). At that time, Aim Safety Manager John Rugarber will take attendees through the dos and don'ts of navigating tough winter conditions with confidence, ensuring not only their own safety but also contributing to the overall well-being of the roadways they traverse and the protection of the cargo they carry.
Here are some common issues truck drivers face during the winter months:
Icy Roads: Winter brings icy road conditions, making it difficult for trucks to maintain traction. Sliding and skidding are common risks, especially on untreated or poorly maintained roads.
Reduced Visibility: Snowfall and icy conditions can significantly reduce visibility on the road. Poor visibility increases the chances of accidents, and drivers must contend with fogged-up windows and mirrors, making it challenging to navigate safely.
Snow Accumulation: Accumulation of snow on the road can impede a truck's progress. Heavy snowfall may lead to road closures, forcing drivers to find alternative routes or wait until the roads are cleared.
Brake Issues: Cold temperatures can affect a truck's braking system. Icy roads may cause brakes to freeze, reducing their effectiveness. Truck drivers need to be vigilant and ensure that their brakes are in top condition before embarking on a winter journey.
Limited Daylight Hours: Winter days are shorter, leading to reduced daylight hours. This means that truck drivers may have to navigate through challenging conditions in the dark, requiring heightened awareness and reliance on vehicle lighting.
Weather-Related Delays: Winter storms can lead to weather-related delays. Truck drivers may find themselves stuck in traffic or forced to wait for roads to be cleared, affecting delivery schedules and overall travel time.
Chain Requirements: In some regions with heavy snowfall, authorities may require the use of tire chains to improve traction. Putting on and taking off chains can be a time-consuming and physically demanding task for truck drivers.
Cold Exposure: Exposure to extreme cold temperatures poses risks to truck drivers. Frostbite and hypothermia are concerns, especially during loading and unloading activities or when performing maintenance on the truck in harsh weather conditions.
Wind Chill Factor: Wind chill can make already cold temperatures feel even more frigid. Truck drivers may face challenges when exiting the cab, conducting pre-trip inspections, or handling cargo in windy conditions.
Road Salt and Corrosion: The use of road salt to melt ice can lead to corrosion of a truck's undercarriage and other components. Truck drivers need to regularly clean and maintain their vehicles to prevent long-term damage.
Traffic Accidents: Winter weather often contributes to an increase in traffic accidents. Truck drivers need to be extra cautious and prepared to react quickly to the unpredictable actions of other motorists on slick roads.
Despite these challenges, truck drivers can navigate winter conditions safely by adhering to best practices, staying informed about weather forecasts, and maintaining their vehicles in top condition. Adaptability and preparedness are key for a truck driver facing the diverse and sometimes harsh conditions of winter. Don't forget to register for our free Safe Winter Truck Driving Best Practices Webinar!