Winter is coming….like a good boy scout be prepared! As we all know, winter driving presents some additional challenges, especially for truck drivers. Here are a few tips to consider when driving in winter conditions.
- Block heaters are not designed to warm an engine. They are designed to maintain the heat already generated in the engine. It is crucial that your semi-truck is plugged in while the engine is still warm.
- Remember to UNPLUG your truck before starting it. Two to three seconds of the engine running while the block heaters are plugged in is enough to burn out the block heaters.
- If moisture is present in an airline, use one cap full of brake line anti-freeze in the EMERGENCY (red) side ONLY. Never put it in the blue side or you may cause the brakes to lock up. Use only company supplied brake line anti-freeze, as there are many products out there that will cause damage to the internal brake system.
- Slow down. Most winter accidents occur because drivers are going too fast for road conditions. A slower speed gives you more time to react if something occurs. Hydroplaning happens more frequently at higher speeds, including loss of control due to slush. Extra patience and care for other drivers can help a lot.
- If stranded or stuck, stay in your vehicle. If you get stuck in a bad storm, blizzard, slide off the road, and you can’t see a close place to seek assistance, stay put! It’s easy to get confused in a bad storm, and you may get lost. Bundle up. You should also keep moving to stay warm. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning; keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation. Run your engine for only 10-15 minutes each hour.
- See and be seen. Keeping your headlights on during the day can make it easier to see what’s in front of you. It also makes it easier for the drivers around you to see where you are in poor visibility. Also be sure to keep your lights, windows, mirrors and reflective tape clear of snow and ice. Every step you can take to be seen on the road lowers your chances of an incident.
- Don’t be part of the pack. Traffic tends to move in groups on the highway. Getting between groups gives you a safe buffer zone around your vehicle. Let the pack out run you when driving to ensure you have the space you need.
- Your safety is the priority. If the weather turns and you’re not sure it’s safe to drive, don’t! No matter what dispatchers or other drivers tell you, if you have a bad feeling about the conditions, you shouldn’t be driving. Park somewhere safe and wait it out.
As we enter the winter driving season, there are many tips and tricks out there. But at the end of the day, nothing makes up for a bit of common sense and logic. A well-rested, clear-headed driver will always win out over risk-takers and speed demons. Used good judgement, stock your truck with emergency supplies and maintain your equipment.
Truck maintenance doesn’t need to be a hassle. With full-service leasing and contract maintenance from TEC Equipment, you can be sure that your fleet is ready for whatever the road brings.