Winter driving is challenging for everyone, but especially for those driving heavy duty commercial trucks. Not only do you need to worry about your safety, but you also need to worry about the load you are carrying for your customer. The following tips can help you keep yourself safe and on the road.
Tip #1: Keep Your Maintenance Logs Up to Date
Make sure to stay on top of all maintenance for your specific model of heavy duty truck. Keeping to the minimum maintenance schedule as detailed in industry regulations is a start, but it may not be enough. A better idea is to follow the sometimes more stringent maintenance schedule laid out by your truck's manufacturer. A truck repair shop, like King George Truck & Tire Center, can help you determine what these are if you do not have access to the owner's manual. At the very least, make sure both brakes and tires are inspected before the onset of the winter season.
Tip #2: Travel as a Lone Wolf
It can be tempting to keep the tail lights of the cars in front of you in sight at all times, especially when traveling in snowy conditions. Unfortunately, being part of a pack of cars ups your chances of getting in an accident and damaging your truck. Instead, slow down and allow cars to get ahead of you so you have a nice stretch of road to yourself. You already know that smaller cars can stop more quickly than you can, so ignore the temptation to follow too closely.
Tip #3: Pay Special Attention to Your Defrosters
Before setting off after each pit stop, take a few extra minutes during your circle check around the rig to make sure the defrosters and cab heaters are working properly, and that you have plenty of window fluid in the tank. There are few things more dangerous than getting onto the highway and discovering that your front windshield is icing up faster than you can defrost it. Many defroster and heater issues result from a blown fuse, so keep plenty of extra fuses on hand and know how to change them.
Tip #4: Stop Safely
If you need to stop, either for a break or due to mechanical issues, try to get completely off the road. It's best to use an actual pull out, such as a rest stop, as opposed to the shoulder. This is because other drivers may not realize you are stopped in snowy conditions, which can lead to them plowing into the back of your rig. If you must stop on the shoulder, use your hazard lights and not just your running lights to help indicate that you are stopped. Also, make sure you have plenty of extra flares in your emergency kit, since they may quickly sink into snow drifts or even go out.
Generally, it's best to stay in your truck and call local repair shop for a tow and a fix if you break down on the side of the road. Stepping out of your truck can put you in the path of sliding cars on the freeway.