Winter truck driving safety comes into focus again as we head into the winter and truck drivers should begin each day by obtaining the weather forecast, before the journey starts.
Drivers can take advantage of the Met Office’s specific weather forecast for the Highways England network and get the special alerts for high-sided trucks. An amber alert means take extra care, while a red alert means that you should park up and wait for weather conditions to improve.
Driving a truck in Ice and snow
Driving a truck on ice and snow requires extra precautions and you should:
- Lower your speed
- Keep a good distance, which on icy roads should be around ten times the normal stopping distance
- Avoid sudden braking, acceleration or steering
- Break gently over longer distances
- Used dipped headlights when it is snowing
- Be aware that traffic signs and road markings may be obscured
- Be aware of the nighttime temperature drop, if it feels like the steering is light, then you may now be driving on ice
- Fix snow chains or snow socks on the truck’s driven wheels during prolonged periods of snow
- If the truck’s retarders are not managed by ABS, then be careful when going downhill, as these could cause the rear wheels to lock
- Keep the truck’s cab temperature constant as changes in body temperature throughout the day causes fatigue
- Be aware that minor roads may not have been gritted, even when major roads have
- Plan a route that avoids steep hills
- Be aware of less traction when the truck is empty
If your truck gets stuck in snow, then you can try several different techniques to break free.
If fitted, you can engage the diff-lock, in order to regain forward traction. You should disengage the diff lock as soon as the truck is moving. You could also try getting your truck unstuck by using the highest gear possible to improve traction or by alternating between a forward gear and reverse.
In all instances, avoid revving in low gears, which may lead to the drive wheels getting dug in deeper.
Driving a truck in high wind
In high wind you should avoid exposed roads by planning a route that avoids motorway flyovers and bridges. Take particular care when overtaking and when driving high-sided trucks.
On empty curtain-sided trucks, tie back the curtains to one end to help minimise the effects of side winds. Also, be aware that after deliveries your truck will be lighter and is more likely to be blown off course by strong winds.
Driving a truck in fog
When driving a truck in fog you should drive at a speed that will allow you to stop within the range of your vision. Be careful not to get pulled into chasing another vehicle, just to keep sight of its taillights.
Make sure that your truck is seen by using using fog lamps, when visibility is seriously reduced (less than 100 metres). Also be aware that fog drifts rapidly, forming fog patches.
Preparation and pre-thought are the key to winter truck driving safety.