Today, we’ll be discussing winter driving tips for commercial truck drivers. Driving and operating a large vehicle is not as easy as it may seem. It presents unique safety challenges, and it may take some time to get used to. These safety challenges can become even more difficult in winter weather conditions.

On snowy or icy roads, you’ll need to adapt your driving style in order to make it to and from your destination safely. Learn more about winter driving tips and efforts to prevent accidents from happening. Let’s get started!

Keep Weather Pro Gear 

First and foremost, be aware of the weather forecast in your area, as well as in the area you will be driving to. In order to do this, you’ll want to download a good weather app or tune into a weather radio. This will help you prepare for the weather conditions you will face.

Winter weather is known to bring freezing temperatures, as well as snow and ice. This means you’ll want to make sure you have adequate supplies on hand. This means you’ll want to dress appropriately and bring extra clothing just in case. Dressing in layers is always best, and make sure you bring a jacket that is sufficient for cold temperatures. You’ll also want to bring gloves and a winter hat. 

Other items you want to make sure you have in the cab of your truck include a flashlight, blankets, a bag of sand or salt, snow/ice scrapers and/or brushes, jumper cables, and tire chains. Stock your cab with plenty of water and non-perishable foods in case you stuck for long periods of time. Be sure to check out our previous blog containing a truck driving gear checklist so that you don’t miss any important items!

Always Perform Pre-trip Inspection

You should always perform a pre-trip truck inspection in any weather condition. However, it is arguably even more important to do so in the winter months, for several reasons. First of all, you need to check your tires for wear, pressure, and balance. If truck tires need air or need to be replaced altogether, this could cause trouble encountering icy roads; no traction is an accident waiting to happen.

Additionally, you’ll want to check your wiper blades to ensure that they are working properly. Check your fluids and make sure they are not frozen. Top them off if necessary. Do a complete walk-around of the truck and trailer. Take note that nothing is out of place or needs to be repaired. 

You should also be sure that they are free of snow and ice before you depart. Be sure all of the lights on your truck are fully functional, as well as your defrosters. If you have parked your truck in a location where it has snowed overnight, be sure to use a snow brush or scraper to remove any snow or ice from your windshield and all other windows and mirrors so that you will be able to see clearly. Perform a pre-trip inspection every time you are ready to depart to or from a location.

Slow Down

Speeding is never a good thing, especially in snowy or icy conditions. While you should always follow the speed limit, the posted speed limit may be too fast for certain road conditions. Keeping your speed down will help you maintain traction, giving you more time to react in case of an emergency. If you need to hit your brakes, moving at a slower speed will give you more time to stop.

It is important to remember that, due to its size and weight, a large commercial truck needs more room to come to a complete stop than a normal passenger vehicle like a car. Additionally, the faster you are driving, the longer it will take to come to a complete stop. Going too fast on wet roads can cause you to hydroplane, so it is best to watch your speed to avoid winter driving accidents.

Give Yourself Extra Space

Speaking of the time it takes to come to a complete stop, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of space to stop if necessary. A normal passenger vehicle like a car generally needs approximately 316 feet to come to a complete stop, while a large commercial truck needs about 526 feet to safely stop.

The stopping distance on a wet road is nearly twice the normal stopping distance, and that distance is even greater on icy roads. Leave plenty of room between your truck and the vehicle in front of you in case you need to come to a stop. 

Be Cautious of Bridges and Overpasses

Bridges, overpasses, and other elevated surfaces freeze faster than the regular road, making them more slippery than other surfaces. Surfaces could contain have black ice, may not be salted, and may not be properly treated to reduce freezing. Exercise extra caution in these areas. You should also be cautious when on entrance or exit ramps, as sharp turns can prove to be dangerous. 

Know When to Stop

The last of our winter driving tips is knowing when to slow down or stop. As a commercial truck driver, you are often on a tight schedule. You have loads to drop off at certain times. However, that does not mean that you should always venture out into a winter storm. If you feel that the weather or road conditions are too dangerous for you to drive in, pull over or find a safe way to exit the roadway and park at a truck stop until the weather clears up and it is safer for you to drive.

Tune into a weather radio or check forecasts to know what to expect and see if they offer any information on current road conditions. Always trust your instincts if you feel that road conditions are unsafe.  Call dispatch and ask if the delivery appointment can be rescheduled.

Safe Driving is Part of Our Culture

While the weather is out of everyone’s control, following these safe winter driving tips can reduce the risk of accidents. Here at B.W. Mitchum, safety isn’t just something we practice—it’s part of who we are! We have on-call dispatch 24 hours a day, and our drivers, dispatchers, and staff work together to create a culture of safety.

In our last blog, we talked about 6 apps that every truck driver should download. These days, there’s an app for everything, and they can really make your life easier when on the road! We discussed a few of the most popular apps for commercial truck drivers, including apps that help with routing, gas station and fuel rewards, weather apps, and more! All of these can assist driving in difficult conditions. Interested in learning more about these helpful apps? Check out our last post.

We hope you found this article informative, and we hope to see you back on the blog soon for more tips and insight on topics involving truck drivers. Are you seeking new opportunities in the commercial trucking industry? Join our team! Visit our opportunities page to learn more about our requirements and apply to one of our open positions. Thank you for reading!