Commercial truck drivers traverse the country every single day. They perform a necessary job valiantly so we can buy and receive the goods we choose to acquire, but driving a large truck is no easy task. When mother nature unleashes her fury in the form of a thunderstorm or winter storm, driving becomes treacherous, and unless the roads are shut down, commercial drivers and the big rigs are on the road.
As the drivers of semis understand, safety is a top priority. When the roads get icy, it becomes tough to drive safely with a small car, let alone manage a commercial vehicle.
To stay safe as a commercial truck driver, especially during the winter, consult the tips below and work them into your driving routine.
1. Regular inspections
Commercial vehicles should receive a daily inspection from their driver and periodic inspections from a licensed mechanic to keep all vehicle parts running smoothly. Sometimes, this goes overlooked, and one oversight could mean the difference between causing a crash or breaking down on the side of the road and reaching your destination.
2. Extra space is vital
For all drivers on wet or icy conditions, providing yourself with additional space to stop is critical. On very slippery roads, provide yourself up to 10 times the amount of extra space to stop. Semis and other commercial vehicles require a large amount of space to stop on dry roads. Keep this in mind when driving on wintery roads. Proving yourself this extra space also includes driving slower during inclement weather.
3. Smooth driving
Avoid the following during times of wet and icy roads: sudden braking and acceleration, quick and sharp turns, excessive speeding, and cornering. When decelerating, lightly pumping your brakes allows you to maintain consistent speeds as you slow down to decrease the possibility of losing traction.
4. Your safety is most important
As a commercial driver, you have deadlines, but if the weather is so hazardous that you can barely see the road or can’t keep the vehicle steady, pull over. Most likely, you aren’t the only one making a safe decision. The important thing is to protect your life and the lives of others on the road; your destination can wait.
If you end up losing traction, begin skidding and fear you are going to completely lose control of the rig, perform the following steps:
- Quickly lower the clutch
- Keep your eyes on the left mirror (only the left mirror)
- Correctly steer and counter-steer quickly to realign your vehicle and trailer. Battle the skid until you reclaim traction
- Pullover as soon as possible to calm yourself before getting back on the road
Finally, make sure your vehicle is ready to go. More precautionary maintenance and materials are needed when crisscrossing the country during inclement weather.