Winter weather can be disruptive. It causes businesses to close. It creates power and communications outages. It makes roads impassable. It disrupts emergency services. Basically, winter weather complicates the life of everyone it touches.
In the middle of this chaos, you will find truck drivers. They are trained to use their knowledge and experience to navigate through the storm and make deliveries as quickly as possible. They know when to safely forge ahead through storms, and they know when to sit them out. They know how to prepare for these trips. They know what supplies to bring. Truck drivers understand how to get the job done.
Below are some basic winter truck driving tips to ensure that both you and your semi-truck are stocked to weather any conditions that you may encounter this winter season.
Winter Truck Maintenance Equipment and Supplies
Truckers spend more time working around the outside of their trucks in the winter compared to summer. Here are some of the tasks truck drivers should perform before starting each trip.
Stocking your Truck for Winter
- Stock up on windshield washer fluid. Estimate the amount you will need but buy more. Washer fluid is inexpensive and easy to find. It is also the one thing you will desperately miss if you run out.
- Purchase spare windshield wiper blades. Snow and ice can be tough on equipment. Driving with a broken one in bad weather is almost impossible.
- Pick up diesel additives or other fluids that your truck may require. You cannot assume that you will be able to purchase them on the road. In bad weather, everything important seems to sell out quickly.
- Bring non-clumping clay kitty litter or sand for traction. If you need a bit of additional traction, these may do the trick. Kitty litter is lighter than sand and easier to handle.
- Get a few windshield scrapers and snow brushes. Even though they seem to last forever, it’s good to have some spares.
Keeping Warm in the Cold Weather
- Consider getting insulated winter coveralls. You will be glad you have them, especially if your trip requires you to crawl around the truck to put on tire chains.
- Find some suitable insulated winter work gloves and insulated waterproof work boots. Consider getting two or more pairs of gloves. When working in the snow and ice, gloves may quickly become saturated and useless until they can dry. Insulated waterproof boots are also a good investment to keep your feet dry and warm.
Pack Plenty of Clothing, Food and Cash
Driving in a bad winter storm is often like taking a step back in time. There may be fewer filling stations and restaurants open for business. Cell phone service may be intermittent. The roads will likely be in terrible condition. Traffic will move slowly, if at all. There will be breakdowns, accidents and stuck vehicles everywhere. It makes for a long, tedious trip and can take a toll on any truck driver.
Planning and preparation can help keep truckers warm, dry, comfortable and well-nourished. These recommendations should help you safely survive your winter driving challenges.
- Bring enough clothes and dress in layers. When you return from working outside the truck, you will want to get into some warm and dry clothes. You are probably going to do this a lot and will want plenty of clothes available. It’s a good idea to bring clothes that allow you to dress in layers. Dressing in layers will enable you to dress warmer or cooler, depending on the circumstances.
- Overstock the Pantry. Many of the restaurants along the way may not be open because of the weather. The trip may take longer than you expect. With those two facts in mind, you should plan to have extra food and water on board.
- Carry plenty of cash. Credit cards make life simple. They track expenses and are convenient. However, card machines require electricity and communication. In a bad storm, a merchant may be unable to process credit card transactions. Cash lets you pay the old-fashioned way.
Stay in Touch
Using your CB radio, drivers will find it helpful to stay in touch with other fellow drivers to learn what weather conditions are ahead and whether it is safe to proceed. Of course, once you are safely parked or reach your destination, you will also want keep in touch with your family and friends to ease their worry and make sure they know you have navigated any winter conditions.
Following these steps won’t guarantee a worry-free winter, but they will help truck drivers have a better winter driving experience.