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How to prepare your freight for unpredictable winter weather

14 January 2020



How to prepare your freight for unpredictable winter weather

Brr! Do you feel that? Winter’s chill is here, and that means truck drivers need to prepare for inclement weather. This extreme weather affects shipping, and not for the better. Just one winter storm can affect your safety and profitability. That’s why truckers have to prepare for cold weather ahead of time, balancing safety with time. 

Truckers: prep your freight for winter with these eight tips

Your safety is the most important thing in the world. Avoid truck accidents, delays, and damage by preparing for unpredictable winter weather ahead of time. Follow these eight driving tips to prepare your freight for winter. 

1. Don’t ignore the basics

You might think, “Duh,” when you see these suggestions, but the reality is that thousands of drivers are still injured or killed over basic traffic safety violations. Follow basic precautions like:

  • Keep your cell phone out of sight while driving. Texting kills!
  • Wear your seatbelt.
  • Go the speed limit. 
  • Don’t tailgate other drivers. 

As a professional driver, your job could be on the line if you don’t follow these rules. Follow the basics to protect both yourself and other motorists on the road. 

2. Plan your route  

The best time to plan your route is before you’re behind the wheel. Pull over and look at your route. Even if you think the weather should be nice, give Weather.com a quick glance. Weather can change quickly, and within two hours you could be in the middle of nasty road conditions with little warning. 

Look over your route and memorize a few safe places where you can pull over, if needed. If you’re driving in an icy area, plan the route so you cross hazardous areas, like bridges, in the afternoon after the frost starts to melt. 

3. Set weather alerts 

Please don’t use your cell phone while driving! You can use voice-to-speech notifications on your phone to alert you when there’s a change in the weather. Some CB radios also include weather alerts. Whatever works for you, make sure you get notified of sudden changes in the winter weather. It could save your life. 

4. Check insurance policies 

Make sure all of your health and rig insurance is valid and up to date. If the worst happens, you want to make sure you’re covered in the event of a wreck or injury. Put all of your insurance paperwork in an easy-to-access place on your big rig so you never lose track of it.

5. Store provisions 

Did a winter storm catch you by surprise? Don’t get caught in the snow wearing a t-shirt. Always store winter provisions in your commercial truck so you can wait out harsh winter weather. 

Put a small emergency kit in your rig with:

  • A warm jacket
  • Base layers
  • Food and snacks
  • Water jugs
  • Blankets
  • Books

You’ll be much more comfortable waiting out a snowstorm if you have a few provisions on hand. 

6. Conduct maintenance 

You can squeak by with subpar breaks in good weather, but winter weather is going to test the limits of any commercial motor vehicle. Be sure that you’re servicing your truck, paying special attention to the brakes. You don’t want your large truck to skid or jackknife because of maintenance issues. 

7. Idle or take breaks 

Below-zero temperatures make your engine work harder. If you push your truck too much, it will quit on you—and often when you’re in the middle of nowhere, miles away from help. 

Know your rig. If you sense the truck needs a break, pull over. But instead of turning the engine off, allow it to idle. Sometimes the cold will prevent the engine from turning over, and then you’ll really be in a pickle! 

8. Slow down

This one is tough, especially if you’re paid by the mile. Driving below the speed limit can feel like you’re cutting into your earnings. But guess what? A wreck will cut into your time, earnings, and well-being more than slowing down five MPH.

Take your time and share the road. Leave plenty of space between your truck and other drivers. Give yourself more stopping distance to prevent wrecks.  

When in doubt, wait it out

Truck driving is a dangerous job. Get home to your family by following these eight driver safety tips to prepare you for winter weather. When in doubt, wait it out; a delivery is never worth your life. 

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