Talking about winter driving for trucks or semis is not quite as easy as it would seem, as how snow or ice affects you can vary a lot. From the state you are in and the weather you encounter to the type of truck and load, it can all make a difference when it comes to winter driving. However, that problem with defining just what winter driving is, also shows the problem of winter driving itself, and that is unpredictability.
When the weather turns cold, snow and ice are covering the road, you never quite know what is around the corner or under your wheels, and that is probably the most important thing to really understand about winter driving. No two situations are ever the same, and staying safe on the road is all about caution, and being ready for anything.
Winter Driving Challenges
There are unique challenges for both snow and ice, but by far the most common cause of trouble is speed, and while driving at the speed limit is legal and often seen as essential to make good time, when the conditions deteriorate, slow down. It should be the number one thing for any truck driver, keep the pace slow and steady to stay safe and in control. It is not just speed driving either, if visibility falls with extreme weather, get off the road and wait it out, better to arrive late than never arrive at all.
Snow and ice effect trucks in several ways, but there is one in particular that matters most, grip. To many, that just means wheels spinning as you try to pull away, but it’s much more than that. Grip affects your braking, being able to slow the vehicle down effectively relies on the tires maintaining their grip, so easy, slow braking is essential too, only using the footbrake when the entire unit is absolutely straight on the road, to avoid the trailer sliding and spinning you off the road.
Of course, driving technique for bad weather is only one aspect of coping with the winter, being prepared for it is the other. Having the right clothes, ensuring everything is working right, especially the heater, keeping essential supplies to cover your needs if you get stranded, all are essential parts of staying safe through the winter.
Changing your routine also makes a difference, be diligent with keeping lights clean, being seen by others can be crucial out on the road in winter weather, but also keeping your fuel tanks topped up. Not only does this matter if you get stuck somewhere, but the extra weight over the drive tires can help you find traction and grip when the road gets icy.
In the winter, preparation, expecting the unexpected and respecting the conditions are the key to being safe out on the roads. Smart truck drivers listen to their own judgement, and put safety before anything else, every time.