Winter is a challenging driving season for drivers of heavy-duty commercial trucks. In order to stay safe, it’s important to take action before the freezing weather begins, and to take precautions throughout the season. Here are some of Minimax Express’ recommended tips to help you have a safe drive this winter.
Before You Drive
Before you get behind the wheel, we recommend you have a Winter Driving Kit in your vehicle. This kit should include:
- a blanket
- extra clothing (e.g. a hat, gloves, boots, warm socks)
- rain gear
- non-perishable food and water
- first aid supplies, including any required medications
- a flashlight and batteries
- a cell phone and charger
- a windshield scraper and brush
- washer fluid (for -0° Celsius weather)
- extra wiper blades
- jumper cables
- a bag of sand, salt, or even kitty litter, to help with traction under your wheels
- traction mats or tire chains (if available)
- a hammer and putty knife to remove snow from air tanks
Conduct a vehicle inspection
Before every trip, and at every stop, take a few minutes to inspect your truck.
Key checks include:
- Snow and ice removal
- Be sure to remove all snow and ice from windows, front lights, side lights, tail lights, license plates, roof, and hood. You want to have good visibility on the road.
- Inspect tires
- Check your tire pressure. Properly filled tires will handle better on snow and ice.
- Wiper blades
- Turn on your wipers and ensure that they are making complete contact with the windows. You want to be sure that any snow will be swept off your window while driving.
- Check fluid levels to ensure that your truck will run efficiently and safely. Fluids can include: oil, transmission fluid, coolant, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid.
Tip: The chances of gas lines freezing are rare, but if you get stuck in a snowdrift, you’ll be able to keep the engine running longer if your gas tank is always at least half full.
On slippery roads, traction decreases. Give yourself extra space in front and behind. Stopping distance on ice is double that of normal conditions, so it’s a good rule of thumb to increase following distances to 8-10 seconds, and avoid driving in a pack of vehicles.
Avoid sudden stops.
Steer around obstacles rather than braking suddenly, and if you must slow down quickly, pump your brakes to avoid losing control.
Keep watch for ice.
Ice, and black ice, tends to form on bridges, overpasses, and at intersections. Black ice tends to occur when:
- there’s a sudden absence of water spray from the vehicle ahead of you
- roadside trees look a bit frosted but the road surface only looks wet
- you see ice building on your outside mirror backs and arms, on your antenna, or on the top corner of your windshield
A number of preventative measures should be taken and include:
- Check your block heater cords and make sure they are in good working condition, without damage or exposed wires.
- Check that your vehicle battery is clean, free from corrosion, and charged.
- Change your tires, to ensure a safe tread depth for snowy weather.
At Minimax Express, we encourage all our drivers to be prepared for every drive. We want our team to stay safe on the roads this winter.