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8 Winter Driving Tips for Commercial Truck Drivers

Winter is upon us, and so are hazardous road conditions. That means it’s time for truck drivers to be extra cautious and adhere to best practices for winter driving. 

Today, we’ll cover some of our best tips for truck drivers to navigate the winter months with assurance. Talk to your commercial drivers about safe driving practices before they hit the roads this winter and develop a roadside assistance plan with J&A Fleet Repair. Our team proudly serves Morris, Wilmington, Gardner, Joliet, and Shorewood. If your fleet passes through our territory or operates out of Illinois, give us a call and learn how we can keep your truck drivers on the road longer.

1. Inspect Company Trucks Before Winter Driving

Before setting out on the open road, truck drivers should inspect their vehicles closely. Carefully check over the basics like tire pressure, tire tread, engine oil, and antifreeze levels. You can also check to make sure your battery is good with a multimeter or you can just turn on your headlights. If they shine brightly, you should be good to go. Still, make sure you have cables in every fleet vehicle in case the driver needs a jump start.

Consider also utilizing fuel additives. If the wintery temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the hydrocarbons in diesel can gel. 

If the diesel gels, your vehicle won’t be properly fueled and you won’t be going anywhere. Select a diesel that’s optimized for winter, and consider adding anti-gel additives every time you fuel up. 

2. Stock Your Cab 

It’s always important to stock your cab with proper supplies. During the winter months, it’s even more crucial that you have emergency supplies on hand. A few essentials to add to your cab include: 

  1. Cellphone and charger
  2. Blankets and warm clothes
  3. Water bottles and canned foods
  4. First Aid kit

It’s always better to be over prepared than underprepared. Stock up and feel confident that you have everything you need during your next haul. 

3. Give Plenty of Space

Give plenty of space to drivers in front of you. Create an extra cushion of space to ensure you have room in case your vehicle slides. 

Stopping distance for vehicles on wet roads is double the amount of stopping distance on dry roads. And on icy roads, it’s a whopping ten times the distance! Case in point– give fellow drivers the much needed space while winter driving. 

4. Slow Down For Winter Driving

Similar to giving space, exercise caution and drive slower. Watch the other drivers around you closely. Is there a lot of tire spray, or water coming off their tires? That means that the roads are wet. Is it getting colder, so that tire spray has subsided? This indicates that the temperature dropped and it’s likely you’re driving on snowy or icy roads. 

And let’s not forget about black ice. Black ice is just ice that visually blends in with the road. Unlike snow piles and chunky ice that’s easy to spot, black ice is extra dangerous because it’s nearly impossible to see. 

Exercise extra caution if you perceive that it’s below freezing outside. Assume that you’re driving on ice, and drive extra slow. Additionally, don’t slam on the brakes. As you drive on icy roads, give enough space to be able to decelerate at traffic stops and red lights without sliding. 

5. Talk to Other Truck Drivers 

Your radio isn’t just for catching weather updates. Once you park your vehicle, you can chat with other drivers about the wintry weather conditions. This will help you to feel a bit more connected to those around you in your line of work, and relay your experience to folks who have empathy during stressful hauls. 

If you can, try to find a more experienced driver that can coach you through difficult road conditions. 

6. Improve Visibility

At a stop, perform a quick vehicle check. If it snowed or is snowing, clear it away from your vehicle’s lights, windows and license plate. 

Snow has a big impact on visibility while you’re driving. Ensure that you’re able to see clearly out of your windows and that your lights are bright and ready to go. 

7. Wear Sturdy Boots

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Because ice and snow make the ground extra slick, ensure your feet are protected with sturdy boots that have good traction. Keep three points of contact when entering and exiting your vehicle to avoid slipping. Good boots will also help you with refueling, loading, and unloading.

8. Take a Break – Your Cargo Isn’t Worth Your Life

If you’re driving along and you notice cars in the ditch, that’s a strong indicator of dangerous roads. Just pull over. No cargo is worth your life. If you feel unsafe during your haul, it’s best to maneuver safely off the road and take a break. Find a rest stop, park your vehicle, and take a deep breath. Wait until the weather clears so you can safely proceed on your route. 

Have a Roadside Plan with J&A Fleet

Still feeling a bit anxious about winter driving? In case of an emergency where you need your big rig towed, have a roadside assistance plan. Not only can we tow your truck, but we’re also ready to help service it if any parts are down. 

J&A Fleet Maintenance is here to help. We’re based out of Northeastern Illinois and are happy to service any and all fleet maintenance that your vehicle requires. Whether you need help on the road or are looking to stop by for a tune up, J&A offers a variety of services to get you back on the road in confidence.

Contact us today or call (815) 369-0113 to schedule an appointment.

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