Truck driving can be considered a demanding occupation any day of the week. Add an assortment of bad weather to that, and you have yourself a full-blown difficult and dangerous job. Stay safe while on the road by understanding the tips and tricks of bad weather trucking.
NOTE: Under the Employee Protection Provision of the Surface Transportation Act, commercial drivers have the right to refuse to operate their vehicles if it would be unsafe.
How to Drive Truck in Bad Weather
Many truck drivers do not consider driving in the intense cold as trucking in bad weather, however, if you’re reading this, you should think otherwise. No special cautions must be taken on the road for intense cold, but preparations must be made before getting on the highway to prevent costly damage to your semi.
Winter’s intense cold can damage a truck’s internal workings. The engine and its parts are manufactured to withstand and operate in the cold to a certain degree, but continuous use in low temperatures forces the internal workings to push harder than they’re designed to for an extended period of time.
Prevent overworking your engine by starting and running your truck around 15 minutes before driving. Giving your truck’s engine time to warm up allows the oil, gas and other fluids to move more freely through the system, which can help prevent the internal pieces from being too overworked in the extreme cold.
Reduce damage from cold and snow by taking the time to prepare your rig for winter weather.
Ice and snow (or worse – a blizzard!) pose the most obvious dangers of driving in bad weather. Snow decreases visibility and road friction, creating additional problems for those with time-sensitive or perishable loads.
When possible, drive slowly. Your main concern is the safety of yourself and those around you on the road. Do not make quick, sharp turns or speed through bends in snow and ice. The last thing you want to do is jackknife.
Jackknifing occurs when a truck’s trailer continues to move forward when a cab’s wheels have locked, forcing the trailer out to the side of the cab. A jackknifed semi is extremely hard to control, so drive slowly and brake before bends rather than during them.
Even better, if the weather is really bad, try to avoid being on the road, period. Talk with your contact at the business you’re delivering for and explain the situation. Most companies would rather wait an extra day to get their goods than risk there being an accident with you and their product/goods in tow.
With all the bad weather driving tips focusing on cold weather issues, it’s easy to forget that hot weather can pose a serious threat to drivers as well.
High temperatures can cause a truck’s engine to overheat (similar to the reason it does when it becomes overworked in cold weather), tires to melt and goods in a refrigerated or freezer truck to spoil.
In extremely hot temperatures, consider reversing your driving schedule — park your semi in the shade during the day and drive the distance at night. A few degrees can make a world of difference to your engine.
High winds can blow semi-trucks and the goods they carry right off the road, causing problems for both the driver and the company whose load they carry.
If you have a heavy load, feel free to drive in stronger winds. Before embarking on a long drive, however, be sure to test that your truck will be able to navigate properly and safely on the open road where winds are the strongest.
If your load is light or you’re driving empty, consider parking and waiting out the winds instead of driving in bad weather.
If you must drive, keep a tight grip on the steering wheel and only go as fast as your truck feels comfortable going. There may be occasions where the wind is pushing your vehicle forward or you’re driving into a strong wind – when that happens, adjust your speed accordingly.
If the wind is coming at your truck from the side, slightly turn your wheel in that direction to offset the change. Strong gusts can blow your semi out of your lane and into another, so keep your distance from other vehicles if possible.
Do not attempt to drive in strong, swirling winds. Regardless of if the weatherman says it is a watch or a warning– your delivery can wait.
The best way to drive a truck in a dust storm is by not doing it. They are not predictable and can quickly close down roads and passageways.
When you find yourself caught in a dust storm, pull your semi to the side of the road, close your windows and turn off outside vents. Keep the sand out of your lungs and out of your truck’s inner workings!
When it’s raining, even if it’s just a little, SLOW DOWN! It’s the simplest way to avoid hydroplaning.
If the rain itself is dense enough to impact visibility, pull off to the side of the road and wait it out. It takes a long time for your semi-truck to brake. Add decreased visibility and the potential to hydroplane in the mix and you get one of the most dangerous bad weather trucking combinations.
There are many other weather conditions out there that truckers should be wary of.
The easiest way to stay safe is by monitoring the conditions on the routes your planning to travel by watching the local news, listening to weather updates on the radio or by downloading a real-time weather app.
Be safe, plan ahead and use your common sense. If the weather would make it difficult for a regular-sized vehicle to drive, it would make it twice as difficult for a semi-truck.
You plan ahead when it comes to the weather, so why wouldn’t you plan ahead when it comes to your finances? Ensure you have enough cash to fill up your tank, make repairs on your truck and safely purchase any other trucking-related good or service by factoring your invoices. Let EZ Invoice Factoring help you find the factor that best fits your needs.
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