10 Winter Driving Tips for the Trucker

Driving a truck in serious winter conditions requires a specific set of skills for all professional truckers. This is one of the primary skills you need to learn when undergoing CDL training.

As a trucker, you need to adapt your driving style when driving in snowy or icy conditions. Good maneuvering and skid control skills are needed in poor weather.

Learning the defensive safety skills for driving in poor conditions and implementing these separate the professional truckers from the rest. When you have proper knowledge, you can make good decisions on knowing when conditions are unsafe, and when it’s time to get off the road.

Driving in bad weather, especially on ice and in the snow, is risky because of the “stop-time” required, poor traction, poor visibility, and the increased unpredictability of the drivers on the road.

The job of a trucker becomes more challenging because of the foul winter weather.

However, knowing some winter driving tips and tricks can still be valuable. In this article, I will give you some winter tips that are also ideal, even for the most experienced truckers.

1. Slow Down

Fault accidents are commonly due to excessive speed. It is legal to driving at the speed limit. However, it is often too fast for icy road conditions. Take time as needed. Do not hurry. This is the number one rule of any winter trucking tips list.

2. Keep a Safe Buzzer Zone Around Your Truck

When possible, leave plenty of room between your vehicle and vehicle in front and beside your truck.

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3. Don’t Travel as Part of a Pack

Traffic seems to move in ‘packs’ on the road. The key is to find a safe way to get away from the pack and travel alone. Then, make sure that you are also maximizing the distance around your vehicle.

4. Don’t Follow the Tail Lights of the Vehicle Ahead.

When there is heavy snow, it means there is also low visibility. When you see the tail lights of the vehicle ahead of you, it means that you are following too closely.

5. Never Push Beyond the Limits of Your Equipment

One of the best ways to stay safe is to know what your equipment can handle.

6. Stay Parked

Stay parked if you are nervous about driving in bad weather. Call your dispatch if possible. Reschedule your delivery appointment. Driving anxiously is as dangerous as driving carelessly.

7. Carry a Bag of Kitty Litter

Carry a bag of kitty litter under your bunk. Warm tires can turn the snow you parked on into a patch of ice in a brief time. Throwing kitty litter under your tires is am environmentally safe way to get that little bit of extra traction needed to keep you going.

8. Warm Up the Windshield

Defrosting in a high setting can help the warm glass. At the same time, it also cleanses your dirty windshield. 

Though it says that it is good to do that below 40 temperatures, however, it is only ideal when it is still in the bottle and lines.

The alcohol evaporates faster than the fluid, the fluid can freeze on the window. To help prevent this, put a few ounces of brake line anti-freeze in with your washer fluid.

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9. Carry a Hammer & Putty Knife

Air tanks can freeze up quickly. This happens when you are driving in excessive amounts of snow. You will get these under the truck and make sure there is no ice or snow-packed up on your air tanks. Do not think that the air in your tanks or heat from your motor will melt the snow. What happens is that the compressed air is cooler. If the snow melts, it will turn to ice from the cold metal beneath it.

10. Keep an Eye on your Trailer Tires

Watch your trailer tires often, especially when you have just hooked up to a trailer.  Remember, when the last driver used that trailer, the brakes were warm.

Make sure the wheels are turning. If the brakes are frozen, there are two possibilities to check out: a frozen valve or the shoes are frozen to the drums.

If it is a frozen valve, pour some methyl hydrate through the system to melt it. If it is a shoe frozen to the drum, get your hammer and tap the drum gently with your red button pushed in. It is easy to diagnose this problem. 

Joel Curtis

Joel Curtis from Texas is a 30-year veteran in the trucking industry. He's driven refrigerated, flatbed, tankers, intermodals and more. You can find him as the primary author at America's Driving Force and at industry events.

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