Updated: Feb 20
As we transition into the winter season, it is important for Professional Drivers to prepare themselves for the potential challenges winter conditions bring while operating behind the wheel. Every year we hear about winter preparation and every time I will say... yes it's necessary and yes it's important and yes you can never be prepared enough. Regardless if you are completing a one day trip or a seven-day rounder... operating during the winter months adds a different complexity. As Professional Drivers face colder temperatures, freezing rain, snow, icy roads, and longer periods of dark to name a few, here are my tips to help you prepare for winter.
1) Prepare your essential and required items the day or night before
If you're starting fresh from home make sure to have your required items packed and ready to go the night before such as a wallet, driver's license, extra winter clothing, food, water, and whatever else you feel you will need to keep yourself comfortable. If you are headed out for a multi-day trip, ensure you pack a little extra when possible in the event you come across a road closure or unexpected delays while at a customer. Click here for my checklist, tips, and tricks (need to include a link to what do you need in the cab blog once posted).
2) Get mentally prepared for the road conditions ahead
Navigating on snow-covered, slippery highways can be mentally and physically draining, and it is extremely important for Professional Drivers to stay concentrated on the task at hand. To stay concentrated for periods of time, stay hydrated by consuming appropriate amounts of water (have a filled water bottle always in arms reach) and eating healthy foods that help provide energy (proteins bars, fruit, or veggies in to-go containers). I encourage all Professional Drivers to stay focused each winter season. Check the weather forecast and ensure you are driving for the conditions. Popular weather reports and forecasts that I use can be found on (need to include a link to weather channel blog once posted).
3) When you are operating a Commercial Vehicle
Commercial vehicles are required to be maintained in accordance with the Carrier's preventative maintenance program. We encourage all commercial vehicles to be thoroughly inspected prior to the cold temperatures to ensure that any lingering mechanical issues are repaired such as (need to include a link to winter temperatures inspections blog once posted). A minor crack or leak now could lead to major issues on the roadside, which could result in costing more in the end.
As the snow flies and the roads become more slippery, having tires in optimal working condition are a necessity to help ensure your commercial vehicles have traction when required. Inspecting for adequate tread depth, air pressure and overall condition of the tire is extremely important. When completing your winter inspection, it is crucial to inspect the commercial vehicle's batteries and electrical system to ensure inadequate parts are replaced ahead of time. When temperatures drop, worn-out batteries and faulty electrical systems make it difficult to start a power unit. We encourage you to take a look at the compiled list of respected tools professional drivers should carry with them while operating. (need to include a link to recommended tools blog once posted).
To help reduce operating costs, we encourage commercial vehicles to not be left idle for long periods of time, my recommendation for good service is (need to include a link to telematics carrier blog once posted). According to the American Trucking Association, an hour of idle results in appx 1 gallon of diesel (3.785L). Eliminating unnecessary idling saves large dividends on fuel, reduces emissions and maintenance costs.
Additionally, if your commercial vehicles are being operated in specific mountain terrain, ensure each commercial vehicle is equipped with enough tire chains that are in good working order.
4) Communicate with your Carrier and Customers - Put yourself in their shoes
Winter conditions bring additional challenges to a Carrier; longer travel times, clearing snow off the rooftop of trailers prior to departure, chain up areas in specific regions, and other unforeseen events. As a Carrier, you want to do everything that you can to proactively prepare for these challenges so you have a clear plan if a detrimental event takes place on the roadside. Effective communication between the Carrier and their customers is crucial to help protect business relationships while navigating challenges. When Dispatch becomes aware of potential delays on the roadside, it is important that Dispatch
works with professional drivers to help resolve issues. Additionally, Carrier's are encouraged to monitor road reports in the areas their professional drivers will travel and communicate any potential road closures to the appropriate channels within the organization.
In the event a professional driver is involved in a collision on the roadside or while at a customer, a Carrier needs to put their plan into action, which will help mitigate losses and ensure all parties involved are safe. Remember, as a Carrier, you are encouraged to ensure all collisions involving your commercial vehicles are evaluated so they are reflected accurately on your Carrier Profile. Journey management is extremely important. We encourage Carrier's to keep focused that everyone makes it home safely. Everyone working for a Carrier is encouraged to keep this message at the forefront of their minds, as this is the most important goal.
Did you know, the Pivotal Transportation Industry Solutions offers online compliance training that is designed by industry experts, to help ensure you meet your regulatory requirements?
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