If you’re not winter ready yet, what are you waiting for? Trust me – don’t wait until the last minute. A recent snow storm at BigRoad HQ caught your trusty blogger off guard and...stuck. It wasn't pretty! A lot can change in 24-hours – from icy roads to blinding blizzards. Make sure your prepared with our winter trucker's checklist!
Be Alert To Risks
Before beginning or continuing with a run, check the weather forecast. If you see storms ahead, stay in touch with your supervisor in case it's no longer safe to operate. Don’t put your personal safety at risk to meet an arrival time.
Get Winter Roadworthy
Ready to hit the road? While inspecting common violation hotspots, add these to your list:
- Lights: Check headlights, taillights, blinkers, and brake lights for snow coverage that could reduce your visibility to others. Speaking of snow, don’t forget to clean off your license plate and the top of your trailer or you could face a hefty fine.
- Windows: Keep the windshield washer reservoir full! Add de-icing solution to prevent ice build-up and check wiper blades for deterioration (also helps to keep a spare on-hand).
- Battery: Cold weather drains batteries fast! Check the age and strength of your battery.
- Tires: Be aware of traction device requirements (such as tire chains or cables) for each state in which they operate their commercial motor vehicle.
- Tire pressure: Cold weather can cause under-inflated tires, adjust the inflation as needed.
- Fuel: Keep the gas tank two-thirds full to avoid fuel line freezing or running empty. Use an isopropyl alcohol additive as an extra measure against fuel line freezing.
- Fuel additives: Diesel fuel can gel in extreme cold. Solution? Use a winter blend fuel with a high cetane rating and add anti-gel additives at each fill-up.
- Cooling systems: Yes, cooling systems can still break in cold weather! Inspect the radiator, belts, and hoses for potential failures. Also, check the coolant to see if it’s at the optimum freeze point.
- Fuel filter and water separator: Monitor the truck’s water separator daily and drain it when full to avoid contamination. Replacing old fuel filters also protects the engine.
- Air dryer: The air dryer prevents water from entering the brake lines where it can freeze. Make sure it works and change the filter if needed.
- Engine block heater: Diesel engines need a higher cylinder temperature than gasoline vehicles making them harder to start in the winter.
Remember, Safety First!
If you're caught in bad road conditions, remember to use defensive driving techniques. Non-professionally trained drivers can be just as hazardous as snow and ice! To minimize skids, practice speed and space management while smoothly accelerating, braking, and steering.
Keep an Emergency Kit
Breakdowns in the summer are inconvenient; breakdowns in the winter can be deadly!
Stay safe by keeping the following handy:
- Proper outerwear (extra coat, gloves, hat, boots)
- Emergency flares, pylons, reflective vest
- A shovel, snow brush, and scraper
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Anti-gel fuel additive
- Tools (hammer, screwdrivers, open-end wrenches, hex-key set, box knife, and pliers)
- Jumper cables
- Blanket/sleeping bag
- First-aid kit
- Extra food and water (non-perishable items such as protein or granola bars)
- Extra medications (if necessary)
Running Out of Time?
Ensure you stay hours-of-service (HOS) compliant by understanding how the adverse driving conditions HOS exception applies. If the threat of bad weather (and poor road conditions) are known before your run begins, the exception does not apply. Otherwise, conditions that prevent a driver from completing the run within their HOS limits may add up to an additional two hours to complete the run or find a safe place to park the vehicle.
Stuck? BigRoad Can Help!
As always, a good practice for potential weather delays is to keep tabs with your supervisor. For BigRoad users, the Message Center is a great way to stay in touch, even when reception is minimal to non-existent! We invite you to setup a demo to see how easy compliance (in any kind of weather) can be with us!