When the winter season rolls around, trucking takes on new dangers as safety becomes an even more pressing concern. Truckers must deal with some of the most severe weather conditions, and they will drive through all of them. In the winter, you deal with blizzards, icy roads, high winds, and heavy precipitation. All of this can turn highway safety on its head as you have to exercise an ever-increasing caution to keep from accidents.
Slowed Shipment of Freight
Winter brings a new host of dangers to the shipment of freight, and if you believe that your life might be in danger to continue, you should get off the highway. Let’s say that the snow in front of you has made the roads icy, and you can’t see more than 10 feet in front of you. If you can’t go any further, call up dispatch, tell them that driving your route has become unsafe, and dispatch will get in touch with the third party logistics company so that everyone understands. This keeps you from having a hard time with dispatch. Communicate proactively to keep everyone in the loop.
Severe Weather Has an Impact
When you get a major road closed down like i-80 in Pennsylvania, you can bet that a number of truckers will have to find a different route. This leads to shipping delays because they have to plan out a new route to get the freight to its destination. You have no benefit to pretending that bad weather doesn’t contribute to delayed shipping time. Instead, you can get immense benefits from planning for these things. Have upfront and candid conversations with people so that they understand the outcome and experience fewer surprises. In general, freight doesn’t stop during bad weather, but it does extend the timeline. One of the biggest rules in trucking comes down to safety. You have to look at safety first, and the trucker should never endanger their life to get the freight to its destination. In some cases, taking a break to wait out, the weather can make a difference. This also prevents damaged merchandise because of an accident.
Determine Critical Orders and Move up the Timing
As much as possible, you can plan for bad weather and look at the most critical orders to guarantee that you get the freight to its destination before the storm hits. Most drivers will even appreciate the chance of driving early because they don’t want to get stuck in bad weather. When a specific region gets compromised, you might reroute the shipment to avoid getting stuck in a storm that can cause a two or three-day delay.
Don’t Worry About Being Late.
In most cases, businesses don’t mind if the shipment gets delayed due to bad weather because they’d prefer this to you having an accident and having damaged goods. This can cause even greater delays. However, be certain to communicate with dispatch and get off the road.
Some of the biggest dangers that face truckers during winter driving include:
- High winds
- Icy roads
- Intense cold
Believe it or not, if the wrong wind hits your semi, it can carry you right off the road. You can lose control of your truck. When semi-trucks drive in high winds, they face an increased danger because of how they’re highly prone to wind interference. The larger surface of a truck can create what’s known as a “sail area” where it catches on the wind, and it can cause the trailer to lose control and tip over. It can cause the trailer and the truck to move like a sail. In particular, if you carry a lighter load, you may want to park at a rest stop and wait out the wind storm. If you must drive, keep your hands tight on the steering wheel.
Icy and Snowy Roads
Icy and snowy roads have the same impact where they can make the highways more slippery. In fact, most truckers probably think of this as the most obvious danger. When the snowfall comes in at its worst, or you have highly icy conditions, you may want to park and wait it out. Don’t risk getting into an accident. With these types of weather conditions, don’t make quick or sharp turns. In addition, don’t speed through a bend, and give yourself extra time to slow down for stoplights and stop signs. You don’t want to have your truck jackknife. Once a jackknife happens, you can’t control it, so you want to avoid it from the beginning.
Beware of Intense Cold
A lot of truckers don’t even think of this as a dangerous weather condition, but extremely cold weather can lead to costly damage on your truck. You might have to pay for repairs because of how it can be hard on the internal mechanisms of your vehicle. While it can cause damage to all parts of your vehicle, some of the most vulnerable parts in the truck include:
- Dead battery
- Thickening fluids in the transmission
- Possible tire blowouts
- Leaks in the steering and brake system
The cost to repair a semi-truck will be much higher than with a car. For example, the cost to replace a transmission can cost anywhere from $1,500 up to $4,000. Meanwhile, you could have to pay as much as semi-truck tires can cost anywhere from $400 up to $600, but you could pay as much as $1,200 per tire for high fuel-efficiency tires.
Depending on the driving region, winter brings a lot of rain that can cause hydroplaning. In addition, you have to be aware of this with wet road conditions because of how it can cause your tires to lose contact with the road. During wet and rainy conditions, TransAm Trucking recommends that you maintain at least a 7-second following distance between vehicles to give you time to slow down.
Over the winter season, truckers have to remain especially vigilant of safety because of how they face a whole set of new challenges that can endanger them. As the saying goes, drive according to the weather. When you have bad weather conditions, don’t worry about getting your shipment from one place to the next on time. Instead, worry about safety because it doesn’t do any good to drive fast and get into an accident. This can lead to an increased delay for the carrier, which can be even worse for them.