Time waits for no man, and ready or not, the time to prepare for winter weather is upon us. The trees growing ever more bare and colder temperatures are signs that winter is coming.
Being an OTR driver can be a dangerous job as is. When you add in icy temperatures and snow you get a whole new set of challenges. Snow and ice significantly increase the chances of an accident while driving. Furthermore, freezing temperatures ensure that you need to take extra precautions even when parked. Or in the event that you become stranded.
With that in mind, we decided to share a few winter safety tips to help you get prepared.
Temperatures in parts of the US are already dropping as low as the mid to lower teens. That means, depending on where you are heading, you could face the potential of fuel gelling. Starting using additives now will ensure you are ready if you hit those temperatures. This can upfront could make up for the greater costs in downtime later.
Practice Good Winter Driving Techniques
In Illinois, there is a saying: “If you don’t like the weather now just wait a minute.” While we may not have much snow on the ground at the moment it could come at any time. As the days go on the chances will only get higher. Starting to develop some winter driving habits now will help you when the snow and ice hit. Here is a few thing you can be doing right now to build those good habits:
- Keep your headlights on when driving at any time.
- Accelerate gradually to reduce the chances of slipping.
- Keep you speed down in wet, potentially icy conditions.
- Keep extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Don’t use cruise control
- Don’t pass or make sudden moves. Try to keep your driving motions as smooth as possible.
Keep It Warm
Block heaters are not designed to warm an engine. They are designed to maintain the heat already generated in the engine. That is why it is crucial to plug in the truck while the engine is still warm. Remember to UNPLUG the truck before starting it. Some block heaters can burn out after only a few seconds of being plugged in with the engine running.
Do not idle the trucks. You will do more to COOL the engine by idling a truck coming off the road vs. shutting it off. (Engine temperature rises approx. 18 degrees when shut-off).
Starting a cold truck and letting it idle is futile. If you need to ‘warm’ a truck that’s been sitting – get in and drive it around the yard. Exercise the truck until it has reached maximum oil pressure. This will warm the engine, transmission, differential, and suspension. Not to mention prevent running the risk of fines for idling; for both the driver and the organization.
Have Emergency Supplies and Tools on Board.
While most of the time you might be able to make it to the rest stop, it only takes the one time you don’t make it to change your life. That is why it is important to keep extra food and emergency materials in the truck. Here are a few of the things we recommend you add to your supplies list for the winter:
- Case of water
- Non-perishable food such as canned soups, granola bars, nuts, peanut butter.
- Extra socks and gloves, outerwear. These items have more potential for getting wet.
- Traction material such as sand, kitty litter, ice melt.
- At least one set of snow chains, snow cables, or snow socks.
- Extra windshield washer fluid, glass cleaner and paper towels to keep windows and mirrors clean.
- Extra quilt or comforter.
- Ice scraper
- Diesel additive
These few tips can make the all the difference in avoiding winter breakdowns. Breakdowns during inclement weather are not just costly, but also extremely dangerous. Get prepared now and stay safe this winter.