The driving conditions during the winter months are as unpredictable as they come. One day might be blue skies and clear roads, while the next is an absolute whiteout where visibility is almost nonexistent. Knowing how to handle winter driving is a must for everyone, but it’s especially crucial for truck drivers. Here are some winter trucking tips to help you stay safe on the road this season:
1) Always Check the Weather Conditions
You may not be able to predict winter weather and driving conditions (not even the meteorologists can get it right all the time!), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time to look ahead and see what could be on its way.
The more warning you have that inclement weather is coming, the more time you’ll have to prepare yourself and your truck to face it. Or, if it’s going to be really bad, then you’ll have enough time to prioritize winter driving safety and make other plans.
2) Wear the Appropriate Clothing
Trucking may not have a universal dress code, but winter trucking does have a recommended dress code. If you’re going to be participating in winter truck driving, then you’re going to need to dress for the part. This means keeping a coat and extra sets of mittens, socks, hats, gloves, and boots easily accessible in the truck.
3) Keep Your Truck in Tip-Top Shape
Before hitting the road, one of the best winter truck driving tips to follow is simply keeping your vehicle in prime condition. This means having a full tank, regularly checking your tire pressure, using chains when needed, and keeping the truck clean and visible.
It might be a pain to clean the snow off your truck, but it will make the drive easier and safer for you and everyone you share the road with.
4) Make Sure You Have a Fully-Stocked Winter Driving Kit
When it comes to the best winter driving tips for truck drivers, there are few things more essential than having a well-stocked winter driving kit with you on the road. This “kit” can (and should!) be customized to the needs of each trip and individual driver, but should include things like:
- First aid kit (and pocket knife)
- Small shovel(s)
- Truck maintenance equipment (jumper cables, windshield scraper, extra washer fluid)
- Bottled water
- Some healthy snacks for truck drivers (fruits, nuts, granola, etc.)
5) Practice Winter Trucking Safety Best Practices
Winter trucking is unavoidable—especially when driving in an OTR capacity, where you’ll likely cross into all four seasons at one point or another. But with the right winter trucking tips and best practices, you can ensure that you, your truck, and everyone else on the road remains safe and well-equipped for the weather ahead of them.
For example, before hitting the road, you should check your tire tread depth, air pressure, inflation, and, when necessary, add on your trusty tire chains. And when the day comes to an end, plug in the engine block heater (if you’re driving a diesel truck) so your vehicle will be able to start back up again when morning rolls around.
Winter driving safety isn’t just about knowing how to drive a truck in snow, though. It also means exercising these tips on a daily basis and always prioritizing safe driving practices. This means knowing the kind of environment and conditions you’ll be driving in and using the techniques that will keep you safe in them.