5 Keys to Successful Trucking during the Winter

Dec 01, 2014

There isn’t always a lot of warning when the weather changes from fall to winter. One day you might be cruising along basking in the warm sun watching the leaves turn color, and the next day there is sleet and snow blanketing everything. The abruptness of the transition can catch many drivers off guard and leave them unprepared for the challenges of trucking during the winter. However, there are some simple things any driver can do to make winter trucking more successful.

Here are five.

1. Slow Down and Stay Back
Driving conditions during the winter time are always changing. Dry roads can turn to wet roads, to slippery roads, to icy roads in a matter of hours. It is critical for the safety of you and everyone else on the road that you slow down and stay back while encountering such variation in driving conditions. Remember that you will need extra time and distance in order to stop. Remember that you will need to give yourself more time to arrive at your destination. And remember that others on the roads are not always as mindful of the road conditions as you are. Therefore drive defensively, watching out for others on the road who could be a potential safety hazard.

2. Maintain Your Equipment Closely
Just like your fingers loss feeling and dexterity when they are cold, so does your equipment. Every winter dispatchers hear stories of tractors with dead batteries and trailer equipment that is malfunctioning due to the temperature. To be successful during winter you need to maintain your equipment closely. Make sure you are regularly checking things over to ensure your tires are in good condition for maintaining traction, that your batteries are strong to start the cold and that all necessary fluids are filled up and conditioned for lower temperatures.

3. Pay Attention to the Little Things
I used to work for a boss who was fond of saying, “Details matter.” This is especially true when driving during the winter months. Little things that aren’t a big deal on warm summer days become major hassles when it is -10 degrees. Paying attention to the little things will save you a lot of headaches. Make sure you are giving all your equipment adequate time to warm-up before use. Take inventory and ensure you have plenty of hydraulic fluid, windshield fluid, fuel additive, and antifreeze on-hand. Create a pre-trip/post-trip checklist that will empower you to prevent brake freeze-ups, frozen product in tanks and pumps, frozen lines, and other common occurring cold weather issues.

4. Be Prepared for the Worst
Remember: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” You never know what you will encounter when driving during the winter. The wise driver is prepared ahead of time for the worst situations he may encounter. This means watching weather reports and following along with road condition reports. It also means have tools in your truck just in case. Things like tire chains, windshield scrappers and a small shovel are all good ideas. You should also make sure you have extra gloves, hats, warm clothes, socks, boots, and blankets available in your truck.

5. Keep a Good Attitude
This is definitely the most difficult but it may also be the most important. Winter is tough. Working in the cold stinks. But being negative and mad about it will only aggravate the situations you face and make everyone else more unpleasant around you. Look for ways to stay positive. Eat good food. Make snowballs at the tank wash. Bring a sled in your truck and slide like a kid. Grow a beard. Drink hot chocolate and listen to Jingle Bells while your drive. Remind yourself - you’ll make it through this. Summer is coming. So smile. A lot. And keep on trucking!


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