Did you know?
Even the most experienced truckers can find it difficult to navigate icy roads when winter temperatures plummet below five degrees.
“Reduced traction, coupled with poor visibility, makes the job of a big rig driver extremely challenging,” says Rob Cyr, Transportation Insurance Expert and Senior Account Executive at Rogers Insurance, a member of the Canadian Broker Network.
Implementing preventive safety skills for driving in icy conditions will help avoid major problems. Cyr offers the following winter driving risk mitigation tips to help keep truck drivers safe this season.
13 ESSENTIAL WINTER DRIVING TIPS FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
- Inspect your truck – Preparing your vehicle for winter is key to prevent major problems. Check tire pressure, engine oil, lighting systems and antifreeze levels before hitting the road. “You can also have a mechanic inspect your vehicle to ensure it’s ready to withstand the harsh season of wear and tear,” Cyr adds.
- Slow down – Most accidents happen when truck drivers fail to adjust their speed according to the road conditions. Compensate for poor traction by reducing speed on snow-covered roads. “Going slower will also give you more time to react if something goes wrong,” Cyr says. “Take it extra easy on your acceleration this winter.”
- Allow more space – Not everyone is aware that the stopping distance on a wet road is twice that of normal stopping distance. On icy roads, it’s almost 10 times. “Be sure to leave plenty of extra space between your truck and the vehicle in front of you so you have enough room to move out of harm’s way in case of unpredictable winter weather situations,” Cyr says.
- Stay smooth – In cold weather, it’s best to avoid doing anything sudden – sudden braking, acceleration, cornering etc. “If the situation demands you to suddenly slow down on a slick road, pump the brakes lightly. The key is to maintain a consistent speed and avoid doing anything that reduces traction on slippery roads,” Cyr says.
- Pay attention to tire spray – One of the most important – and commonly forgotten – winter driving tips. A good way to assess road conditions is to observe water coming off the tires of vehicles around you – a lot of water spray means very wet roads, whilst relatively less water spray means the road has likely started to freeze and you need to exercise additional caution.
- Let there be light – Visibility tends to be very poor in inclement weather. “Don’t forget to turn on the headlights of your truck, allowing other drivers to see you whilst maintaining a safe distance,” Cyr adds.
- Take evasive action – Especially on snow-covered roads, it’s better to take evasive action than hard raking. If you’re traveling at around 50km, consider decelerating and maneuvering your truck around the obstacles to avoid a collision.
- Pull over when in doubt – If the weather’s too severe, ditch the schedule
and pull over in a safe spot where you can wait it out until it’s safer to drive on.
- Be prepared – Keep a first aid kit, extra winter clothes, shovel, matches, traction devices, water, food, flashlight etc. and ensure you have roadside assistance for trucks in case you run into trouble.
- Double check – Look twice before proceeding intersections and streets when visibility is low.
- Warm up the windshield – Turn the defroster on high for a minute to help warm up the glass on really cold days when your windshield is very dirty.
- Keep a hammer and putty knife – Air tanks can freeze up quickly in excessive snow. Use these tools to remove ice that pack up on your air tanks, Cyr advises, as in some cases the heat from your motor alone won’t be enough to melt the snow.
- Check the trailer tires – Keep a regular eye on your trailer tires, ensuring the wheels are turning. If the brakes are frozen, it could be either a frozen valve, or the shoes are frozen to the drums. “For a frozen valve, pour some methyl hydrate through the system to melt it. If it’s a show frozen to the drum, gently tap the drum with your hammer with the red button pushed in,” Cyr advises.
Talk to your expert CBN broker about your insurance needs today.