There is no one set of rules or habits that will prepare us for everything we may encounter on the road, but developing good habits will keep us prepared for 99% of the problems the road has to throw at us. Highways, Interstates, or just those frozen, potholed city streets, we in the Midwest know that winter comes with additional challenges. Remember to follow these better practices out there on any roads in any vehicle, ESPECIALLY if you have 18 wheels and tons of weight behind you :
- Pay attention to the weather forecast BEFORE you get on the road. Keep communications open on the road by keeping your electronics and spare batteries charged, dusting off that old CB radio, and tuning into your AM local weather radio station to get important updates on conditions ahead.
- Pull over when conditions become uncomfortable. If you have any doubt about proceeding…don’t. Wait it out!
- When you have to brake, use your foot brake rather than your Jake brake to avoid tractor jack knifes. Keeping in low gear on downgrades, signaling far in advance, and increasing following speeds should prevent you from sudden breaking in the first place, which causes loss of control.
- Check your brakes for freezingafter prolonged stops. Do your walk-arounds. Check your hoses, lines, etc. until you are sure your equipment is road and weather ready.
- Be visible at all times to other drivers. Daytime headlight use has been demonstrated to reduce the number of collisions by 14%. With less daylight in the winter, make sure everyone can see you and you can see everything!
- Watch your mirror brackets and tires for ice. This is a good sign the road is icy or soon to be. Black ice forms right around 32 degrees F. and has a tendency to form first on bridges and overpasses. *A good way to know when it’s beginning to get icy is to watch for tire spray. If the road looks wet but there is no spray from tires assume there is ice.
In case of emergency on the road in winter:
Whether you are stranded, in an accident, or can’t get your truck moving, remember to stay calm. Panic leads to poor decision making. If you can, stay in your truck, as it’s the safest place for you to be and easiest to find. Remember those spare batteries you packed with your fully-charged phone? Now is the time they come in handy. If you are in no immediate danger, call your dispatcher. If you feel in danger or threatened in any way, call 911.
If you have questions on how to proceed under any circumstances, please reach out and ask those questions. As professional drivers, we have a responsibility to lead by example when it comes to road safety and preparedness as well as the proper handling and care of our customers’ product. That includes being prepared for any weather conditions every time out in the winter season in spite of forecasts. Midwesterners know winter weather changes fast. Remember always, our top priority is the lives and safety of ALL. Please be careful this winter and come home safe and well every time out on those winter roads.