Large trucks can be dangerous neighbors on the road on a sunny day. Add snow, ice, and other winter conditions, and the potential for a serious accident jumps 34 percent, according to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Truckers already have several challenges to contend with due to the sheer size and weight of their vehicles. Tractor-trailers take longer to stop safely. They also have much larger blind spots, making it difficult to see other motorists. Winter weather adds a whole new degree of difficulty to the entire trip.
During an average Detroit winter, snowfall reaches as much as 19 inches. Here are 10 winter driving tips for truckers to review before embarking on their next shift:
- Inspect the truck. Though inspections are already required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truckers should be especially vigilant to conduct all pre-, during, and post-trip inspections. Make sure to check tire pressure, oil, and antifreeze levels. Clear all mirrors and windshields. Wiper blades should be in excellent condition to keep the view clear.
- Use your lights. Before heading out, check all lights. If you’re in an especially heavy winter storm, you may need to stop periodically to keep the lights clear.
- Keep your distance. According to FMCSA, a fully loaded tractor-trailer needs about the length of two football fields to stop — on a good day. You’ll need even longer to stop in snow or ice. Keep 10 seconds of following distance between the truck and other vehicles.
- Watch the tire spray. It’s important to know whether you’re dealing with rain or ice on the road. One trick is to watch the tire spray of the vehicles ahead of you. The less water spraying up, the more likely it is that you are driving in icy conditions.
- Drive slowly. Your tires can lose traction in wintry weather. Drive slowly to maintain control of your rig and have time to respond if cars around you spin out.
- Know your route. Map out the best path to your destination and where the weather is likely to be the worst. Identify areas where it will be safe to stop if necessary.
- Carry an emergency kit. Keep blankets, water, a first aid kit, flashlight, traction devices, bags of sand, a shovel, and ice scrapers in the truck in case of an accident or breakdown.
- Keep it steady. Vehicles don’t respond well to sudden accelerations or decelerations on snow and ice. If you have to stop completely, pump the brakes gently. If you’re able, approach an intersection slowly and roll through it once the light turns green.
- Be careful on bridges and overpasses. They freeze before the road does and are often spots where black ice accumulates.
- When in doubt, stop. If other semi-trucks are pulling over, take the hint and stop, too. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Christensen Law is a personal injury law firm in Detroit, MI with decades of experience representing people who have been hurt in truck accidents and motor vehicle collisions throughout Michigan. If you or someone you love was hurt in an accident involving a large truck, 18-wheeler, or other commercial motor vehicles, call or contact us today for a free consultation.