Operating In Weather Conditions
As if being a commercial motor vehicle driver was not challenging enough they go and add weather conditions to the daily challenges that are faced. We would all love to have dry paved roads everywhere we travel, but unfortunately, this is not the case. If you find yourself driving in the rain, fog, snow, or ice here is some advice we give our drivers to help maintain safe travel as they go about their driving jobs.
SLOW DOWN! First and for most thing any safety person will tell you is that you need to slow down in any weather conditions. Yes, I know when your clock is running so are you, but it is much more important that you reach your destination safely then to not reach it at all! Slowing down gives you more time to react to the road conditions and others around you. The more time you have to react the better the scenarios will be. People are all in a hurry these days and adding weather to the scenario only ramps up the safety concerns around you.
By increasing your following distance you allow yourself a little extra time to react between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will give you more time to anticipate stops allowing you to not have to hard break. Hard breaks are not only bad on the equipment, but they can cause freight to shift. The shifting of freight can be anything from changing of weight distribution of your load to life-altering disaster if it shifts forward right into your truck.
When roadways are affected by weather conditions they tend to get slippery and sloppy. Make sure you accelerate slowly and smoothly. This will help you avoid sliding on the roads. Once you start to slide on the roadway you have lost all control of the equipment. You may travel to areas where chains are required. It is not feasible for the roadways or the equipment to use chains anywhere and every time the roads are slippery. Even in the areas, mostly mountainous terrain, where they have the chain laws you are still taking a risk driving on the roadways with chains on. Commercial vehicles have an advantage to cars as they are much heavier when loaded. They also have a much bigger disadvantage from cars when they are empty. When coming into curves be sure to slow down. You are much more likely to lose traction on a curve than a straightaway.
Visibility can play a huge factor in weather conditions. The shorter distance you can see around you the harder it is to anticipate and react. Using your low beams helps give you a little better visibility in fog, snow, and rain. It is a good rule of thumb to run with your low beams on all the time so others can see you better. The high beams are great and allow you to see even more around you, but know when to use them and when not to.
In all, your safety and those around you is the top priority. Many companies like ours have a safety program that rewards you for doing your job safely. Take advantage of the extra money they are paying out by slowing down, allowing yourself more time, and using your low beams. I tell our drivers that they are the ones out in the conditions and they have the control to do what is safely best for them. If you need to pull off the road and wait till the conditions get better then that’s what you do. Communicate with dispatch and arrangements can be made so that you and those around you are able to safely get to your destinations.