top of page

Winter Weather Truck Driving Tips

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Sleet, ice, and snow– it's inevitable in the Northeast this time of year. There are plenty of things you can do to make it safer to drive your truck in these conditions. Follow these winter truck driving tips and be sure to stay off the road when it's too dangerous to drive.


Truck Covered in Snow and Ice | Commercial Trucking Winter Driving Tips | Trucking During Snow Storms
Truck Covered in Snow and Ice

BE PREPARED

Much of this is common sense, but it's easy to forget to do the things we know we should double-check. A little preparation can prove invaluable in unpredictable winter weather conditions.


1. Make sure your heater is working.

Cold cab? No thank you. This would be one of the worst things to deal with in the winter. Beyond being uncomfortable, it could be downright dangerous. Ensure it's working properly before you hit the road.


2. Fill up your wiper fluid.

The better you are able to see the road, the more time you'll have to react to any changing conditions or obstacles. Visibility is crucial during the winter months. Be sure to fill up before you hit the road with de-icer winter windshield washer fluid. Also check your wiper blades, replace them if necessary.


3. Pack up emergency supplies.

What would you wish you had on-hand if you got stranded in winter weather? Here are some staples to have in your cab.

  • AM/FM Radio

  • Flashlight

  • Batteries (and maybe a cell phone portable power bank)

  • First Aid Kit

  • Water & Canned/Dried Food

  • Hand & Feet Warmers

To keep you safe and get you moving again, here's a shortlist of items:

  • Flares

  • Reflective Vest

  • Sand or Salt

  • Shovel

  • Tool Kit


STAY FUELED & CHARGED UP

Fuel up more often to make sure you're never at risk of running out of gas in the middle of a storm – or worse, encountering road closures. This can be especially true with unpredictable lake effect snow. Thruways can quickly go from completely clear to closed due to heavy bands of snow that form due to cold winter air passing over the warmer water of the Great Lakes.


WATCH FOR ICE

We've all seen the signs – BRIDGE ICES BEFORE ROAD, but what's the best way to stay safe on an icy bridge, especially if you're hauling a heavy load? Bridges ice over first because they don't have the ground beneath them to help keep the roadway warm. Plus, they are often exposed on all sides to elements including wind. It's important to be mindful of this before temperatures are below freezing because they are susceptible as temperatures approach 32°F (0°C).


Underpasses are another place to watch for ice because they are often shaded. Without the run to warm the road, and melting runoff from the roadway above, black ice can form.


According to this article, ice-related truck accidents are caused by excessive speed and/or brake use. On one hand, acceleration causes your tires to spin, while on the other hand, braking causes them to slide. Regardless, a spinning or sliding tire will want to take the lead, often resulting in a jackknifing accident. It's recommended that truck drivers slow down and avoid braking. When needed, brake as gently as possible to avoid skidding. Remember that anti-lock brakes can cause your truck to slide, but lightly pumping your brakes helps prevent you from losing control.


KEEP YOUR DISTANCE

Just because you're on the lookout for ice and taking proper measures to drive safely, that doesn't mean everyone else is doing the same. Slow down and keep extra distance between you and other vehicles. It can make all the difference should you need to quickly react to out-of-control vehicles, ice slicks, and pileups.


While winter weather is unavoidable, and accidents seem inevitable, taking these winter weather safety precautions can help keep you safe on the road. Prepping your mind and your truck for snow, ice, and cold will help you get home safely.

bottom of page