Are You Prepared for Winter Driving?

on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 in Life on the Road

 Tips From Former Driver and Safety Manager Terry Fitzgerald.

With winter fast approaching, take a moment to take stock of what you have with you in case of an emergency. I only drive about 120 miles every day to and from work but I have an EDC (every day carry) bag in the back seat just in case year round. It can provide the basic necessities if needed in an emergency situation i.e. food, water, shelter, several methods to start a fire with, alternate communication capabilities and a better than average medical kit. It's better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it. Along with that the three essentials I always carried when I was a young man driving were a pair of insulated coveralls, ball-peen hammer and small bottle torch to thaw out frozen brakes. Something you yourself can do in only a few minutes to avoid costly road service and big delays while you set on a waiting list behind other drivers who were not prepared either.

Also be mindful of the chain laws out West and your company’s policy on chaining. If your fleet manager puts you on a load to any of the western 11 states then make sure you have chains on board September 1 through May 31. Fines are steep and tows through the passes are expensive if you find yourself stopped in a chain up area without them.

Finally, exercise extreme caution on wet and frozen surfaces both driving and walking. Ensure you are leaving an adequate following distance at all times so you have plenty of room to get stopped. Make sure your speed matches the conditions. Make good decisions and do not feel pressured. While on-time delivery is important there is no load so hot it won’t cool off in the ditch. If you feel like the conditions are such that you shouldn't be driving in them then don't. Stay off the trailers when possible and always use three points of contact entering and exiting the cab.