Poor Weather Driving
Too many drivers on the highways do not alter their driving skills based on weather and road conditions. Adjusting your driving behavior to meet changing conditions, good maneuvering and skid control skills are all essential in making it safely to your destination during the winter months.
Driving in bad weather, such as snow, ice and fog, is risky due to the need for more stop time, poor visibility, poor traction and the increased unpredictability of other drivers on the road. To help you navigate the increased challenges on the winter season roads, here’s a list of safe driving tips:
SLOW DOWN – At fault accidents are mostly due to excessive speed. Remember that driving the speed limit is too fast for snow covered or icy road conditions. Take as much time as necessary. DO NOT HURRY – slow and steady allows you to arrive safely.
SAFE FOLLOWING DISTANCE – Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicles in front of you and even those beside you, when possible (approx. ¼ mile). Try not to just follow the lead truck/vehicle. If the lead driver makes a mistake, give yourself enough distance and time to not make the same mistake.
NO PACK DRIVING – Traffic seems to move in “packs” on the highway. Find a safe way to get away from the pack by maximizing the distance around your vehicle. This will give you more time to react if someone around you makes mistakes.
USE GOOD JUDGMENT – If the weather conditions are severe or making you exceedingly anxious, then get off the road. Find a place to get off the road safely and wait until conditions improve.
DON’T STOP ON SHOULDER – When the conditions of low visibility exist, especially blinding snow, other vehicles can mistake your position for being on the road and may result in someone slamming into the back of your rig.
BRAKING – Do not engage the jake brake on icy roads. Try to avoid overusing your foot brake, unless the entire unit isn’t straight on the road. Don’t over brake when the entire unit isn’t straight because the trailer can slide and spin you out of your position (the truck slows down, and the trailer does not, especially when the trailer is empty.)
ENSURE TRUCK IS OPERABLE – Be absolutely certain during your pre-trip inspection that the defroster and heater are working properly. Wipers, wiper motors, lights, brakes and tail lights, washer fluid is topped off, moisture drained from air tanks, all brakes are set up and windows and mirrors are completely clean before departure.
KEEP FUEL TANKS TOPPED OFF – for extra weight over the drive tires, to aid with traction. Good quality lug tires, with proper tire pressure, are essential for good traction too.
KEEP LIGHTS CLEAN – Whenever you are able to safely stop, clear lights of snow and ice that has built up during bad weather. Lights make you more visible to traffic and can aid in preventing collisions.
Always be prepared for bad weather conditions by having the necessary supplies and equipment needed. Your knowledge and implementation of proper, preventive safety skills for driving in poor conditions will truly separate the professional drivers from the rest of the pack.
Be SAFE on the roads this winter and always. OOIDA and other trucking resources publish articles regarding current chain laws around the country. Print those and keep in your truck for reference. It is your responsibility to know the laws in each state.