Driving in bad weather conditions can be one of the more challenging aspects of being a licensed truck driver. With many different types of weather conditions potentially causing issues for drivers, it is important to know what precautions to take in order to ensure you have a smooth trip. Here at Truck Driver Institute, we put our truck drivers’ safety first by equipping them with the necessary training to take on any situation. Read on to learn how you can keep your truck safe while driving in bad weather.
8 Tips for Driving in Bad Weather
Inspect Your Truck Before Driving
One of the most important precautions you should take is making sure your truck is in the best condition to drive. Not only can bad weather affect your driving ability, but a broken windshield wiper or a headlight that’s out can make this process much more difficult. Be sure to check that your tires are in good condition and that your brakes and lights are working. Inspect your windshield wipers and check your windshield wiper fluid levels. Often, bad weather can cause high amounts of traffic, so make sure your gas tank is full to avoid running out while at a standstill.
Monitor the Weather
Another important measure to take is watching your local weather, as well as the weather along your route. Bad weather can start and stop very quickly while bringing a plethora of other hazards; therefore, it is important to not only check the weather, but watch the radar as well. This can give you a more precise idea of when and how long rain or snow may happen. Pay attention to wind speeds as well and how they might change over the course of your trip. With strong enough winds, trailers can easily blow over, it is important to know when to slow down or take a break.
Take Precautionary Measures
Before driving, it is vital to take the appropriate measure to make sure you will have as safe a trip as possible. If there is snow or ice on the roads, use chains on your truck and add anti-gel to your fuel tank to ensure your fuel does not freeze. Additionally, make sure you have cleaned any snow or ice off your windshield, mirrors, and lights. Use your air conditioning to keep windows defrosted as well. If high winds are predicted, be sure to balance the load you are carrying. Avoid driving with light or empty loads as this will increase your chance of swaying or tipping over in windy conditions.
Monitor Your Speed
It is always safest to drive under the speed limit when driving in bad weather conditions. Ultimately, speed decreases your tires’ traction with the road. Lowering your speed will ensure you maintain as much traction as possible. Staying alert to how the speed of traffic changes is also important during bad weather. As a rule of thumb, if your wipers are on, your cruise control should be off to ensure that you have the most control over your truck. Be especially cautious on bridges as their surfaces are the first to freeze in cold weather. It is also important to be vigilant on entrance and exit ramps as a quick turn while going too fast can cause your truck to tip over. It can be helpful to turn your engine off on bridges and ramps to make sure you do not accelerate.
Use Caution When Braking
Any form of precipitation can cause the contact between your truck’s tires and the road to lessen. This is why maintaining a slow speed and not overusing your foot brake can be extremely beneficial. It is also a good idea to not use your brakes unless your truck and trailer are lined up in order to avoid jackknifing. Additionally, it is advised that you do not use your Jake Brakes on icy roads as they are not made for these types of conditions. If anything, make sure you are braking early before red lights, stop signs, and exits.
Keep Distance Between Other Vehicles
A vital rule to follow is to keep several car lengths between you and the vehicles in front of you. This allows you more time to brake accordingly and avoid a front-end collision. Keep a watchful eye for brake lights on the vehicles ahead of you as well. In the winter, there may be a cloud of snow surrounding your truck if the roads are especially snowy. This cloud may hide a car that is out of your sight. Be mindful of this by keeping an eye on your surroundings to avoid hitting any hidden cars.
Mind Your Visibility
When driving a truck, it is important to be aware of all of your blind spots. However, when driving in bad weather conditions, these blind spots can be even more debilitating. This makes it more difficult to see vehicles that may be close to your truck. Also, pay attention to other cars that may have reduced visibility due to their windshields being partially covered with snow and ice. They may not be able to see you due to their blind spots. Sometimes, it is best to allow the driver who is in the wrong to have the right of way in order to avoid an accident.
Use Your Best Judgement
Ultimately, our best advice is to use your own judgment. Ask yourself, do you feel safe driving in the current weather conditions? Do you feel confident in your ability to drive safely with the proper precautions? If yes, then be sure to follow the steps listed above. If not, then it is best to wait for the weather to lighten up. Your safety comes first, and making sure you feel comfortable enough to drive should be the ultimate goal.
Want to Learn More About Driving in Bad Weather Conditions?
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