Weather is constantly changing, which for a commercial driver may not always be the greatest. You could be traveling down a road with nothing but clear skies when suddenly a storm hits. This creates a strong hazard to you as a driver, and even your career if you were to wreck. In some areas, regardless of the fact that weather has a strong influence on driving, if a wreck were to occur, the blame could be placed on the driver for reckless vehicle operation. Avoid running into such serious issues by taking advantage of these 10 tips when driving in inclement weather.
Be Aware of Weather Forecast
Before starting your trip, whether it is long or short, the first thing you need to do is check the weather forecast. That way, you know exactly what to expect. If you do not have the local news on a television nearby, don’t worry. There are several apps and other tools for you to check on the weather to ensure that you don’t run into any serious problems on the road.
Pre-Inspection of Truck and Trailer
The most important part of your trip is to ensure that everything is in order before hitting the road. Take time to pre-inspect your truck for anything that might be hazardous when on the road. This includes inspecting your tires (they should not risk being flat), wiper blades (make sure they provide a clear view when facing possible rain), fluids (do you have enough coolant?), and lights (without proper lighting you risk not communicating with other drivers).
When caught in bad weather during a delivery run your first instinct may be to rush through the weather so you can finish the job on time. Although this is noble, it is also incredibly risky and unsafe. You must always remain cautious when driving in bad weather to prevent a wreck.
If Weather is Too Harsh–Stay In Truck
There are times when the weather can get too rough. Whether it’s because of a harsh blizzard, strong winds, or other inclement weather, pull over on the side of the road and remain inside your truck. If you continue driving you could put yourself through harm. On the flipside, if you seek out shelter, you may not find a location for many miles which then creates more issues. Avoid any risk by staying inside your truck.
Brake and Accelerate Lightly
In the event that you are stuck in a storm or other harsh weather, make sure that you do not slam on your brakes or gas. If you do, you risk your tires locking up and spinning out of control ultimately leading to a wreck. Not to mention, when rain mixes with the paved road it creates a slippery surface easy for your tires to lose traction on. Stay cautious and gently tap your brakes/gas as needed.
Watch for Black Ice
When driving during the winter, you face a lot of serious risks on the road. One major risk being black ice that has been known to cause several accidents. It can be difficult to see on the road, especially when you are sitting higher up from the road than other vehicles. You still need to be wary of the black ice which only appears when temperatures are close to freezing. Some signs to look for are ice build-up on mirror arms, antenna, or the top corners of your windshield.
Use Extra Care on Inclines
If you are traveling uphill, make sure to be extremely wary, especially if your view is obscured by rain or other weather. When approaching higher elevations you may experience changes in weather such as heavy wind gusts and a steep drop in temperature that could impact your tires (in some cases you will need tire chains to help). Take your time when going uphill. Always be cautious and prepared before going to higher areas so that you do not run into any serious issues.
Empty Trailers Are More Dangerous
When a trailer isn’t loaded down, it risks the chance of being blown over much easier than a trailer that has supplies. Even if the truck does not tip over from the winds, it still can shake from side to side causing issues for other drivers on the road. Not to mention it’s hard driving a truck that is not steady. Make sure that you always have at least some weight in your trailer to prevent possible tip-overs.
Add Extra Space on the Road
If you are driving in the middle of a storm, make sure there is enough room between you and other vehicles in case you have an emergency and need to pull over. It takes a lot more effort to pull a semi-truck over than it does for any other vehicle, so make sure that the roads are relatively clear enough, just in case.
Remember Your Rights
According to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (or STAA), if weather conditions become too severe, you have the right to refuse driving. When your life is put at risk, it is better to seize all driving than to push forward. Read more about the act here to better understand how it can work in your favor.
At United Trucking Driving School, we will use our expertise to train you on how to best handle driving in inclement weather as well as other areas. If you are interested in learning more, sign up or give us a call at 1-800-461-3758 to get your career going in the right direction today.