Extreme Driving Conditions - Quick Tips to Stay Safe

Posted by Matt Manoli on Jan 12, 2015 9:11:25 AM

Snow covered road with a road sign showing the road is slippery

We all know the running joke, no one in New England seems to remember how to drive the second it starts raining or especially snowing. But in all seriousness, its important to take a step back when the temperature drops and the snow starts falling, and make sure you're taking the simple steps necessary to make sure youre handling the tougher conditions safely.

Stay Back - Leave Time to React

In ideal road conditions, the safest following distance is 3-4 seconds. In snowy or icy conditions however, you want to leave at least 8-10 seconds of following time between you and the vehicle ahead of you. No easy task on some of our more infamous Massachusetts highways, but still an important proactive and simple measure you can take to vastly decrease your odds of a collision.

Be Aware of the Day's Varying Hazards

Is there a rain or wind advisory? Fog? Is the sun glaring off all that snow and ice? 

In rainy or slushy conditions, speed management is critical for avoiding hydroplaning, and keeping a safe distance between your truck and other vehicles is of paramount importance. The same goes for speed management and distance with foggy conditions, as the lack of visibility means its more important than ever to give yourself the most possible reaction time.

Sun glare can be mitigated with sunglasses and a visor, obviously. But keep in mind also that the difficulty in visibility even with those measures in place means you should still be watching your distance from other vehicles and speed, because not everyone else on the road is taking the steps to maximize their own visibility. 

Snow Driving - the worst, right? In any type of snow, but especially thick, slushy snow managing your speed and making sure youre taking your time on accelerations and decelerations is absolutely essential. In both snow and ice your braking distance can be much greater than it is in ideal conditions, so distance from other vehicles is key. Reduced traction from snow or ice packing on a road can result in it having 20% of the traction of a wet road. Poor traction means spinning wheels, so paying close attention to your speed, acceleration and deceleration is critical.

Black Ice - one of the most dangerous driving situations out there in the winter. Drivers should pay attention to the spray thrown from other surrounding vehicles - if it suddenly stops, it may indicate black ice is forming ahead.  

Reduced visibility from snow and ice buildup is hazardous. If you cannot see in ALL directions, it is not safe for you to be driving.

Additionally, should your vehicle break down in any of these extreme conditions, immediately call into your dispatcher or supervisor. You should not attempt to walk for help unless absolutely neccessary, and if so leave a note indicating your direction and attempted destination, etc. If your engine is able to run, remain in the truck with the engine running and the window cracked to prevent carbon monoxide buildup and wait for help to arrive. 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Safety, Safe Driving Policy, winter driving

It Pays to Pay Extra Attention to Your Truck for Winter Driving

Posted by Matt Manoli on Jan 9, 2015 2:00:00 PM

Semi-truck driving on a snowy mountain road

It Pays to Pay Closer Attention to your Truck Inspections in Extreme Weather

In addition to your regular daily vehicle inspections, once the cold weather hits its important to remember to pay extra attention to certain parts, fluids, and accessories. 

  • Coolant & Antifreeze - both of these fluids need to be full at all times to help prevent any cold related engine problems
  • Windshields - Make sure your defrosters are working properly at all times, your wipers are properly fitted so they press the window hard enough to completely clear the vision field. Your washer fluid should always be full, and you should be using a cold weather fluid, like a -20 formula.
  • Tires - you need to make sure your tires are in good condition for winter driving, good tread, properly balanced and inflated. 
  • Brakes - Make sure your brakes are properly adjusted, and make sure you are regularly checking for ice on the brake linings, and keeping air tanks as moisture free as possible. In a winter where youre dealing with a lot of ice driving & braking, pay attention to wear.
  • Fuel Tank - you should be keeping your fuel tank full at all times if possible, especially overnight. Definitely do a top off when the forecast is calling for bad weather the next morning. 
  • Lights & Reflectors - make sure that your lights are working, and make sure that all lights and reflectors are free from ice and snow before heading out - in this weather you need all the visibility advantages you can get.
  • Exhaust - make sure exhaust fittings are tight to prevent carbon monoxide leaking. Also make sure your exhaust piping is free of snow and ice.
  • Wiring & Airlines - any exposed airlines and wiring on your vehicle should be free of snow and ice
  • Coupling Devices - Before coupling its critical that all snow and ice is removed from the 5th wheel. In below freezing temperatures, the jaws of the coupling device may not lock if the grease is frozen. The locking should be double checked, and the 5th wheel should be lubricated.
  • Handholds, steps, and deck plates - should always be cleared of ice and snow to avoid falls. Always remember the 3 points of contact rule!


Winter Driving Equipment

The following items should ALWAYS be in your vehicle for winter driving:

  • Windshield scraper
  • Snow Brush
  • Small Shovel
  • Flashlight
  • Warning Devices 

Its also advisable to think about your safety too - keep bottled water, some snacks, a cell phone/CB, and something to keep you warm should the need arise.

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Topics: Safety, Safe Driving Policy, winter driving