Tips on Driving a Semi-Truck During the Winter

Operators of large commercial trucks have significant responsibilities. These vehicles are much larger than traditional cars on the roadway, so any misstep could lead to significant injuries or property damage. The situation can become even more precarious in the winter, particularly when there is a chance of snow or ice. Here, we want to offer some basic tips for safely driving semi-trucks during the winter.

1. Relax

Commercial truck drivers – you are good at your job. You know that panic can lead to an overreaction and an accident. You need to stay calm, even if the winter weather is inclement and you lose visibility. Go through your safety procedures. Remember your training.

2. Slow down

When the snow is falling, or the roads are icy, one of the best ways to increase safety is to slow down, even if this means driving below the speed limit. Commercial truck drivers should only operate their vehicle as fast as their abilities allow and the capabilities of the vehicle permit. You know your vehicle, and you know what you can do behind the wheel.

3. Smooth operation

When the winter weather hits and you are operating a larger truck, your actions need to be deliberate, slower, and more controlled. This means accelerating quickly, hard braking, and taking sharper turns should not occur. Drivers need to maintain a consistent speed, leave enough space between themselves and vehicles around them to slow down easily, and steer gently.

4. Maintain good lighting

It is crucial for commercial trucks to have adequate lighting around the vehicle. This, of course, means their headlights need to be on during inclement weather. Additionally, tail lights and brake lights need to be functioning properly in order for others to have visibility of the truck during this type of weather.

5. Using turn signals

Truck drivers need to use their turn signals anytime they have to change lanes or make a turn, and they need to make sure that other drivers around them see these turn signals. Truck drivers, you need to let your turn signals go for a little bit longer before making your lane change or turn to allow others around you to adjust.

6. Watching for tire spray

Water and slush coming off of other vehicles’ tires can lead to a significant amount of spray. Even if there is less spray but the road looks wet, pay extra attention because this could be an indication that the road is starting to freeze.

7. Watching other truckers

The attention to what other truck drivers around you are doing. If they are slowing down or pulling off the road, you may need to follow their lead and do the same. Listen to your CB radio to see what other drivers are telling you about upcoming roadway conditions.

8. Do not stop

If your visibility reduces to zero, do not simply stop where you are. If you stop in the middle of the road, it is very likely that you will be hit from behind. Slowly creep your vehicle along until you can safely get it off the roadway.

9. Stop and wait

If you need to get off of the main roadway due to severe winter weather conditions, find a safe place to go and wait as long as you need. Typically, we recommend waiting in gas station parking lots or parking lots of hotels or 24/7 restaurants. It is likely that you will not get snowed in at these locations.

10. Maintain traction

If you lose traction, you lose complete control of a larger vehicle. You need to make sure that you have the correct tires to operate in snow, ice, or slush.