Winter is less than a month away but many parts of the country have already experienced record low temperatures. When the temperature drops quickly, it results in slippery and unpredictable road conditions, while rapid thawing can cause fog, hydroplaning, decreased visibility and traction issues. It is an important time for fleets and owner operators to ensure they are fully prepared for inclement driving conditions. Professional trucking organizations can prepare for winter driving with these 12 tips:
- Increase the attention to detail of pre-trip vehicle and driver inspections and establish mid-trip and post-trip inspections as needed.
- Decrease speed. Most accidents are caused by driving at speeds unacceptable to sub-optimal road conditions.
- Maintain a safe driving distance on all sides for the capabilities of the truck and context of present road and weather conditions.
- Institute a policy prohibiting drivers from stopping on the side of the road in low visibility situations.
- Brake Rules - prohibit the use of the Jake brake on icy roads and do not over brake when the unit is not in alignment. It is too easy for the rig to spin out, especially when the trailer is empty.
- Build dependable contacts with roadside towing, mechanics and service personnel in your most frequently traveled areas to ensure swift response time. Delays for roadside assistance can be dangerous in inclement conditions.
- Ensure your rigs are equipped with high quality lug tires and wiper blades in good condition.
- Ensure all vehicles are stocked with seasonal supplies such as deicing washer fluid and a shovel.
- Test batteries to ensure they are working properly.
- Keep fuel tanks full to help with traction as it adds extra weight over the tires. Keep in mind some gas stations close during winter storms.
- Switch engine oils to a cold weather formula for driving in cold climates.
- Before taking jobs, consider historically dangerous driving periods. This includes advising your drivers on when to take breaks. Holidays, dusk and the evening rush can all be high-risk driving times and experience historically high accident rates. Keep your drivers and your cargo safe by maximizing road time during lower-risk periods.