December has arrived and, along with it, the icy breath of winter lurks. For those of us in the trucking industry, the cold portion of the year provides us with a unique set of challenges making it crucial for us to adequately prepare. Here at Scout Logistics we figured we’d help all you truckers out there by compiling a list of straightforward but potent tips or “roadhacks” if you will, to help ensure your Holiday Season commutes don’t get you down and out.
1) Slow down! Don’t rush yourself!
Sure, the thought of greeting winter’s arrival with a decrease in MPH while cruising amidst foggy skies, premature darkness and slushy highways might not sound particularly appealing, but it’s important to remember that a shift in climate calls for a shift in driving strategy and icy, wet highways warrant extra precaution by way of cautious and yes, potentially slower driving. It could save your load, and maybe your life.
2) Keep in contact with colleagues.
With unpredictable weather, it becomes particularly important to make sure there is good communication between fleet members, contractors and anyone else involved in the shipment process. Keep each other updated about road conditions, delays, weather abnormalities and any other vital information pertaining to the shipment.
3) Keep a safe distance
With icy or difficult to see road conditions it’s a good idea to stay a safe distance back from other vehicles. The extra buffer room can go a long way in preventing a fender bender.
4) Warm up your windshield.
Under particularly cold circumstances, windshields will become filthy and frozen. In such instances, it is a good idea to turn your defroster on high for a minute or two before giving it a clean and getting moving. You don’t want frozen fluid on the glass.
5) Stay equipped with winter driving supplies.
Better safe than sorry. Along with your roadside emergency kit, there are a number of key supplies to have with you during the winter. An extra set of super warm clothes, insulated socks, extra blankets and sleeping bag, non-perishable emergency food supply, fuel conditioner, lug tires, propane heater and lighter, extra fuel filters and wrench and a fully charged cellphone! Plus any other personal items that might be needed in emergency circumstances.
6) Proper Pre-Trip Inspections
During winter, it is essential to make sure everything is on board and functioning properly with a diligent and thorough circle check. Make sure your defroster, heater, wipers, lights, and brake/tail lights in particular are all working properly. Keep your washer fluid topped up, drain moisture from air tanks, ensure that your brakes are all properly setup and all windows and mirrors are clean.
7) Stay vigilant for black ice.
It’s called black ice, but it’s actually transparent, brutally slippery and liable to be present on the roads during freezing or close to freezing temperatures. Ice buildup on your windshield might indicate that there’s black ice on the roads. Keep slow and cautious when approaching shaded areas such as bridges, as these are prime black ice hangouts.
8) No your limit
Under certain circumstances road conditions are just too dangerous to be navigating in your typical fashion. Use common sense, and if the road is too nasty, remove yourself and wait till its safe. Make sure to maintain proper HOS regulations even if it means you can’t make a shipment on time. Better to arrive late and alive than not at all.
9) Look for warning signs
If there have been a series of collisions or you’ve just watched a vehicle has spin out in front of you, take it as a sign. Be extra careful of the conditions you’re driving into or if necessary drive off-road and take a break.
10) Watch your step!
Remember that safety concerns still apply when your vehicle has stopped. Slippery conditions can make typical foot commutes/loading tasks difficult and potentially dangerous. Maintain 3 points of contact when entering and exiting your rig and wear a sturdy pair of shoes with good traction.
Though some of this stuff might seem trivial, in the end it can make a profound difference in ensuring your safety. We hope that our brief guide provides you with some assistance over the coming months. Keep safe out there this winter!