When the heat builds up on a summer day, a pop-up storm isn’t too far behind it. Inclement weather in the summertime can include heavy rain, gusty winds, hail, flash floods, and even the occasional tornado. These summer storms can be unpredictable, and they can also leave quite a bit of debris on the road in their wake.
As a truck driver, you should be ready for hazardous road conditions when driving in summer storms to perform your job duties as safely as you can. These suggestions can help you prepare for whatever the weather may have in store for you this summer.
Check the Forecast
The best defense is a good offense. Be sure to check the forecast before you head out on your route so you are not caught off-guard. You may be able to plan a different itinerary to avoid a predicted storm or any warnings or watches. You may also want to scope out construction areas along the way; a complicated or unfamiliar traffic pattern combined with a bad storm can make for a stressful and potentially dangerous scenario.
Know the difference between a storm watch and a warning. A watch means that conditions could allow for a weather event, and you should be prepared. A warning, on the other hand, means that a storm is imminent, and you take cover. If the forecast mentions hail, heavy winds, flooding, or tornadoes, you should take it seriously. You may even need to pull off the road until the storm passes.
Before you leave on any assignment, you should collect and store emergency supplies on hand. Some of the things you should gather together include the following essentials:
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable food and a can opener
- Road flares
- Bandages and other first aid supplies
- Tool kit
- A list of emergency contacts
You may want to brainstorm other items you would want to have in case you get stranded by severe weather.
Skip the Cruise Control
Cruise control can make a long trip more comfortable, but when you are driving in summer storms, you should turn it off and rely on your own ability to maintain a reasonable speed and safe distance while on the road. You can usually tap the brakes to disengage the cruise control, but slick roads and brake taps are not a good combination. The best solution is to completely turn off the cruise control until the storm has passed and the road conditions return to a normal level of safety.
You know that it takes you longer to slow your big rig on wet roads, but are you allowing enough distance between you and the vehicles around you? Keep in mind that part of what makes driving in bad weather such a challenge isn’t the weather itself but the other drivers on the road. You can’t always predict when someone is going to unexpectedly change lanes in front of you or swerve to avoid a flooded lane, and if your visibility is compromised by heavy rain, you may not be able to stop in time. Don’t put yourself in a position that can put your safety and the safety of others at risk.
Review Your Safety Procedures
Do you know how to handle your truck in wind gusts? What about if you and a tornado are on the same path? You may be more familiar with handling your rig in the snow and ice, but it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your summer storm skills as well. Be sure you know what to do in the event of flash flooding as well. When in doubt, wait it out. No delivery or deadline is worth risking your life in severe weather.
Do you need another reason to slow down? A big summer storm can blow debris all over the road. Tree limbs, billboards, and even downed power lines can create dangerous situations, as can flooded roads. Keep your radio on and listen to any weather and traffic updates. When you are on a tight schedule, you may be concerned about time, but you should try to be patient. Go slow when you need to, and you may be able to avoid an accident.
Keep Consistent Contact
Stay in contact with your dispatch or other team member while you are on the road. Let someone else know what conditions you are experiencing as well as your location in case of an emergency. At one time or another, you won’t be able to avoid driving in summer storms. The better prepared you are, the more likely you can continue onward with only a minor inconvenience.
Protecting yourself during a summer storm often equates to a few simple rules. Following these tips for driving in summer storms can help you gets home safe to your family.