Operating a semi-truck during cold conditions such as snow, ice, rain, and wind requires the utmost safety precautions like vehicle inspections and meticulous driving styles. Depending on the conditions, certain steps and processes may apply. For instance, operating a semi-truck when it is cold and rainy can be dangerous if the tires on the truck are not up to par. There are many other things to consider when driving a semi-truck through specific weather conditions, and we've put together a list of some safety tips to follow.
Operating a Semi-Truck in The Snow
When a semi-truck is being driven through colder climates, it is important to be prepared for all possibilities, which can be done by checking specific parts and components thoroughly and making changes where it is necessary. Here are some tips for driving a semi-truck during winter weather such as snow:
- Check the tires: Underinflated or worn tires are susceptible to decreasing gas mileage and are unsafe to drive with due to little to no tread. Tires that are worn have limited capabilities in gripping the road to prevent sliding.
- Keep tire chains: Tire chains are in place to grant the tires on a semi-truck the ability to dig into snow or ice during operation, so it is important that the driver be able to use this tool properly.
- Check the engine parts; It is crucial to properly inspect the engine and its components, such as the belts, hoses, and clamps. If worn parts are found, replacing them immediately before beginning a trip is highly recommended.
- Inspect the wiper blades: The wiper blades should be in working condition always, which means they should have the ability to properly clear the windows of water and snow for the purposes of proper visibility, Windshield wiper fluid should be refilled if it is low, and experts also recommend keeping a bottle or two on hand for the purposes of an emergency.
Operating a Semi-Truck in Windy Conditions
A lot of times, the wind is often overlooked as a weather condition that can be dangerous to operate a vehicle in, but it also requires safe driving styles and inspections before operating a semi-truck as well. The first question that a trucker should ask themselves is the weight of the semi-truck compared to wind and its direction depending on the route. Crosswinds are much more dangerous for a semi-truck to drive through than a headwind or tailwind. It is unsafe to operate a semi-truck with a light load of 35,000 pounds or less if winds reach 60 mph or higher. Wind speeds such as these can potentially flip a semi-truck, dangerously. It is also recommended to drive cautiously when winds are at or around 40 mph. Some steps that a truck driver can take before a trip include:
- Checking the wind conditions
- Select a different route
- Operate the vehicle slowly
- Keep a tight grip
- Drive as close to the shoulder as possible
- Wait it out for a change in weather
Operating a Semi-Truck in the Rain
On top of operating a semi-truck, when snow and wind are implemented into the equation, is the possibility of rain. Taking the necessary precautions before beginning a trip is crucial when there is also rain involved and the pavement is wet. Here is a list of safety tips when driving in the rain:
- Eliminate any distractions like turning cell phones off, have the navigation system started and ready to go, and set any drinks or snacks up so that they are easily accessible but out of the way.
- Keep the radio volume down so that it is easy to hear possible hazards on the road, such as honking vehicles.
- Increase the following distance to allow the truck to have more room to decelerate and stop for possible hazards on the road.
- Drive slower than the posted speed limit to ensure 100 percent of control over the vehicle and awareness of possible hazards.
- Stop operating the vehicle if driving conditions are too severe.
Driving a vehicle when there is snow, ice, rain, or wind involved may require a proper inspection coupled with cautious driving styles like slower speeds. There are numerous components that should be inspected before beginning a trip during cold conditions, such as checking the tires, the battery, electrical components, windshield and mirrors, and the fuel and cooling systems. These components are most impacted by cold climates and oftentimes need replacements after a trip through the winter. The listed parts should be inspected thoroughly by a professional and replaced when there are even minor issues like leaks.