This past weekend, Winter Storm Jonas dumped a lot of snow, upwards of 30 inches in some states. It has wreaked havoc for residents, schools, and businesses, including trucking. Driving in these conditions can be extremely dangerous, if not impossible.
Six states issued hours-of-service waivers for emergency loads in wake of the storm. They are Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Roads were so bad over the weekend that there were drivers who’d been stuck on the PA turnpike for over 16 hours!
Winter is unavoidable for many of us. In trucking, it’s very important to be safe and prepared during the winter season, because a lot can change in 24 hours. Here are our tips on winterizing your truck and being ready with whatever nature throws at you.
Check Your Battery
Batteries need to be strong for the winter and have the juice required to get the truck moving. It’s best to get your battery checked before the winter weather begins, but better late than never! Freezing conditions drain the batteries faster, so ensure yours can handle the weather.
The typical battery lifespan is about 4-6 years, so be mindful of when it needs to be replaced.
And don’t forget to check the condition of the battery connections and ensure they’re securely connected.
Winter Tires & Chains
Checking truck tires should be done regularly, but it’s important to ensure they can handle the winter weather.
Ensure the treads are not worn and have good traction in slick road conditions. Double check the tire pressure so it is at the appropriate level as cold temperatures lower it.
Some states require chains, while others prohibit their use. Do your research and plan your trips accordingly.
Here is a quick guide on chain use across the US and Canada.
Check Truck Fluids
Using winter-ready fluids is key to keeping a truck running through these harsh winter months. Check that the fuel grade is good for winter weather and don’t forget to check the cetane rating on the pump.
The higher this number, the easier the truck will start in cold weather. Look into a fuel additive to prevent the fuel from gelling as well.
Also check the coolant, windshield washer fluid, and antifreeze to make sure it’s topped up and that they’re for winter use. Depending on how much antifreeze is used, it might need to be changed in the spring to prevent issues with cooling in warmer weather.
Supplies & Emergency Kit
Prepare supplies to keep in the truck in case of emergency. This should be available year round, but the cold temperatures in winter can make a situation significantly more dangerous.
Some recommendations for a kit:
- 2 day supply of water & food (non-perishable i.e. protein & granola bars)
- Cell phone & charger
- Tools (hammer, screwdrivers, open-end wrenches, hex-key set, box knife, & pliers)
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight & batteries
- Emergency flares, pilons & reflective vest
- Blanket/ sleeping bag
- Extra hat, gloves, socks, shoes
- Cash & credit card
- First aid kit
- Extra medication if you take any
Each trip should be planned to maximize time on the road, safely and efficiently. With the wrench that winter weather throws into driving, it’s even more crucial to plan ahead.
Check the weather and traffic conditions ahead of time. If the weather is taking a turn for the worse, check to see if there are any storms, closures, and/or accidents coming up. Plan an alternate route just in case things go awry.
Communication on the Road
Stay in close communication with your supervisor during any trips in poor weather. It will give both parties peace of mind. If anything goes awry, they will be able to provide support from the home office.
For BigRoad users, the Message Center is a great way to keep in contact with a supervisor, even when reception is minimal to non-existent. The app will store the message and send it when there is a sliver of reception. It will also provide GPS information of your whereabouts to help plan alternate routes that are safer - and ensure help with find you.
Check in with your family or friends so that they know you’re safe too.
A great tool on the road in both winter and summer - start a free trial with BigRoad and learn how to manage your HOS for your business or fleet with our simple-to-use system!