Winter Driving Tips

Making long trips in the winter can be tough Canadian winters are unforgivable. It’s important to be prepared before you start your drive. Even the most experienced drivers can struggle on roads that are coated with ice and snow. Thinking about your Safety WCTA has outlined the best tips for truck drivers to make every winter drive a safe one.

Come Prepared:

While it might feel like any ordinary day, driving in winter is unpredictable. You never know what could be in store. It’s a good idea to come prepared. For starters, dress appropriately. Don’t rely on your truck’s heating system and wear a T-shirt this time of year. If your vehicle breaks down, gets a flat or encounters any other situation that leaves you stranded, you’ll need to stay warm. Next, pack an emergency kit--this includes a flashlight, dry snacks, plenty of water, a blanket, and a set of jumper cables just in case.

Do a Pre-Trip Inspection:

Before you hit the road to make sure everything is performing as it should. Are your fluids topped up? Is the engine making any funny noises? Do all the lights work? In colder temperatures, certain parts on your truck could wear out faster than others.

Slow Down:

Making a delivery on time is important, but your life is worth more than the product you’re hauling. Most accidents can be easily prevented and are largely caused by impatient driving. While it’s annoying to be stuck in a traffic jam, taking your time in the snow could mean the difference between a serious collision and a safe journey.

Keep a Safe Distance:

Big trucks require space to operate efficiently and safely. Although it can be comforting in a snowstorm to follow the taillights of the vehicle in front of you, it’s not a good idea. If that vehicle suddenly slams on the brakes or is making a serious error, following the herd means you’re at risk for making the same mistake. Always keep a safe distance from other vehicles (7-10 seconds gap).

Keep Your Hands on the Wheel:

We get it driving with one hand on the wheel is comfortable but if you’re faced with snowy conditions, it’s best to keep both hands on the steering wheel in case you need to make a turn or steer away from another vehicle. Two hands will give you more control.

Be Gentle with the Brakes:

Unless you absolutely have to slam them, apply light pressure to your accelerator and brake pads. Your truck most likely has built-in ABS which prevents the wheels from locking up. Use your judgment and drive with caution.

Beware of Black Ice:

Named after the way it blends against the blacktop of the pavement, black ice is the culprit behind many horrendous traffic accidents. Its surface coating is clear, not white, and it can be hard to see. Black ice can linger on sharp bends or in the middle of the road. Many drivers mistake it for a patch of water. One of the best ways to know if your truck is approaching black ice is to keep an eye on the vehicle ahead. If the spray from the back wheels on that vehicle suddenly stops, chances are its lying-in wait up ahead.

Watch Out for Bridges:

Elevated structures like highways and bridges tend to freeze first and don’t get the same care from the salt trucks as common roadways do. If the bridge isn’t completely flat and runs on an angle, you’re at risk for sliding downhill. Black ice tends to hide on overpasses and bridges, so apply extra caution.

Bring Your Own Salt:

If you happen to find yourself stuck and the roads or driveways that are clogged with snow or slush, having access to road salt could make things a whole lot easier! Road salt is bigger and melts snow quickly. Carry an extra bag or two in case of emergencies.

Shut It Down:

If the roads are too bad to drive, don’t be afraid to speak up and tell whoever’s in charge. At the end of the day, your life is worth more than whatever your truck is carrying. A good driver knows not to test his or her luck and knows how to keep things professional. If you’re not comfortable behind the wheel, it only adds to the stress of winter driving. Freak blizzards, huge winds or freezing windchill can be reason enough to stay put or turn back. As always, if the roads get too bad when you’re halfway through a delivery, turn off at the next service center. Never pull over on the side of the road unless you have to. Other drivers could mistake your parked vehicle for a lane and cause an accident. When the temperatures plunge and the snow starts falling, even the most experienced truck drivers can have a hard time. Reduced traction on icy roads and poor visibility can make driving a truck very dangerous in the winter. There are a few steps you can take to help you stay safe this winter.

Slow down:

It might seem like common sense but slowing down is critical during any sort of dicey winter weather. Many accidents during the winter happen because drivers don’t slow down enough to match road conditions. It’s always better to go slower than you think in case you have to compensate for icy roads. Going slow will also give you extra time to react if anything goes wrong in front of you.

Give yourself some extra space:

Do you know that the stopping distance on a wet road is twice the normal stopping distance? And on icy roads, it’s almost 10 times! So, leave plenty of room between your truck and the vehicle in front of you so that you have enough space to move out of harm’s way in case of unpredictable situations (7-10 seconds gap).

Inspect your truck (check it twice):

Getting your truck prepared for winter is essential to prevent potential hazards. Check the tire pressure, engine oil and antifreeze levels fastidiously before you hit the road. Pre-trip inspections are critical to a smooth trip. If you need to apply snow chains, this video can help ensure you do it correctly ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upVg9wERKWg&ab_channel=ValeriuMoscalu ).

Pay attention to Tire Spray:

Pay attention to the water coming off vehicles’ tires an easy way to assess the road condition. This is an especially useful trick when you are trying to figure out if the roadways are about to freeze after a rainstorm. If there’s a lot of spray, the roads are wet. If there’s less spray and the road’s look wet, take extra caution; the roadway is starting to freeze. If the road looks wet with little or no spray, you’re on black ice. Be extremely cautious. Knowing this information can help you practice extra safety measures when ice is likely starting to form.

How to do the load adjustment on trailer:

Its always good to drive with more weight on Drive axles than on Trailer axles.

Please pay attention to video link provided and adjust your trailer tandems accordingly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEHD9Wjw3lk&ab_channel=U-Haul
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9Dgxe584Ss&ab_channel=WeighSafe

Be prepared for anything:

Having winter weather emergency essentials with you during the season is always a good idea. Stock your truck kit with a flashlight, extra food and water, a small shovel, extra battery chargers, matches, a bag of sand or salt, etc. These items may come in handy if you get into a tricky situation and it’s always better to have them ready.

Double check:

Poor visibility during whiteout conditions means that traffic lights, signs and other drivers become more difficult to see. Although you may be able to see, don’t assume other drivers can. Double check before going through intersections.

Stay calm:

During bad road conditions, avoid making sudden actions. Breaking or accelerating quickly can cause you to quickly lose control of your vehicle. Try to keep a consistent speed and avoid doing anything that could reduce your traction on the road.

When in doubt, pull over:

If at any point during winter conditions you aren’t sure of your safety, pull over. Severe weather conditions can quickly go from bad to worse and your safety is always the priority. Find a safe place to pull over and wait until the road conditions improve before driving again.

Let there be light:

The visibility is quite poor in inclement weather conditions. So, don’t forget to turn on the headlights of your truck. This will allow the other drivers to see you and maintain a safe distance from your truck.

Take evasive action:

Sometimes, it’s better to take evasive action than hard braking, especially on a snow-covered road. If your speed is around 40-50Kph, consider decelerating your truck slightly and maneuvering around the obstacles to avoid a collision. Always exercise good judgement and prioritize safety for an accident-free winter season For Drivers

Plan Your Trip:

Before every trip, drivers should always monitor and check the weather. A quick google search or even WCTA website www.wc-ta.ca, listening to weather updates on a radio station is a great start. Research weather information across the different towns and suburbs you’ll be traveling. Make sure you check to see if there are any storms, closures, blizzards, or accidents coming up that will affect your trip. You should also plan alternative routes in the event things go bad.

Communicate While on the Road:

As a truck driver you should always communicate with fleet in bad weather conditions. Only you can indicate adverse driving conditions for yourself.

Protect Yourself from Sun Glare:

Winter may be the coldest and darkest season, but a big danger for truck drivers is the glaring sun. Glare problems are the worst during winter. Not only is the sun lower in the sky in the morning, but it can also reflect off the water, ice, and snow from the ground. Its recommend using sun sleeves, sunglasses, window covers, and lowering your visor when needed.

Prepare Personal Emergency Supplies:

You’ll also want to carry some personal emergency supplies and a first aid kit. For personal supplies, we recommend boots with good traction, extra warm bedding, and additional clothing to stay warm (e.g., hats, gloves, scarves) For Equipment.

Check Overall Tire Health:

Your tires will need adequate tread depth to grip the snow and rain-covered roads. Worn tires and slippery surfaces decrease traction and increase stopping distances. Make sure you check tread depth regularly to see if tires need to be replaced. You should also use snow or winter tires in the winter as they are designed to provide maximum grip in icy and snowy conditions, or simply when the temperature drops. Look for any uneven wear or cupping on the tires.

Check Your Truck Fluids:

Before heading out, make sure you check, change, or top-up all fluids. These include engine coolant and oil, gas, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid. You should also explore fuel additives, as diesel fuel (which contains paraffin) can crystalize at freezing temperatures.

Make Sure Your Battery is in Good Condition:

Check the age and condition of your battery just before winter hits. It’s best to replace the battery every 48-72 months. If your battery doesn’t need a replacement, make sure that it’s mounted well, tightened, cleaned, and there are no loose or exposed wires.

RELAX:

Breathe and stay calm. Panic causes people to overreact. You need to focus.

BE SMOOTH:

Your actions need to be controlled and deliberate. Hard acceleration, hard braking, and sharp turns all decrease traction. Maintain a consistent speed, open up the distance between you and the vehicle ahead, and be easy on the brakes, Steer gently.

USE YOUR SIGNALS:

Always use signals before changing lanes in dry, rainy, or snowy weather. If you’re going significantly slower than the traffic around you, turn on your four-way hazards, take the rightmost lane, and just let everyone pass you. The hazards let other drivers know you’re going slower than they are, and this can help prevent a pileup. Make sure your Signal lights on back of trailer are clear and visible to others (snow can quickly accumulate and make if harder for others to see you).

WATCH THE TRUCKERS:

When the weather goes bad, if the vehicles are slowing down, you should too.

DO NOT STOP:

If visibility is zero (i.e., you can’t see beyond your hood), do not stop where you are! You WILL be hit. Creep along until you can safely get your vehicle off and away from the road.

WAITING IT OUT:

Exit ramps are typically plowed after the main highways. Rest areas are cleared after that. If you need to get off the road, wait it out in the parking lot of a gas station, 24-hour restaurant, or hotel. You stand a better chance of not being snowed in.

TRACTION IS EVERYTHING:

Loss of traction in snowy/icy conditions doesn’t happen because you’re on ice. It means you’re hydroplaning on an almost microscopic film of fluid water (in a transitional state) between the ice and the surface of your tires. The lack of cohesion in the fluid gravely reduces friction, which results in less traction. Make sure you have snow tires or all-weather radials with wide and deep tread valleys. Sipping (small cuts that look like squiggly lines) on the tread studs will help with grip on packed snow and ice.

Be safe out there WCTA Team.