- One of the most important things you can do before hitting the road is to check the forecast. Is it going to rain? If so, how much? How much of your route that day will be in the rain? Are there any supplies (umbrellas, rain jackets, etc.) that you’ll want to have with you in preparation for the day’s weather?
- These are the kinds of questions you’re going to want to have answers to before you start your day. Weather is unpredictable, but the more prepared you are for what the season might have in store, the safer you’ll be.
Prepare for Slippery Roads
When it comes to truck driver safety tips, one of the best things you can learn about is skid control and prevention. Driving in heavy rain (or snow during the winter) probably means driving through slippery road conditions. To help you stay safe, make sure you’re familiar with the following tips:
- Ease off the accelerator and avoid heavy, sudden braking
- Give yourself lots of extra time to slow down
- If you start to slide, turn your front wheels in the direction you’re starting to spin toward
- After regaining control, immediately turn away from the slide and return to a straight line
- Maintaining trucker safety sometimes means slowing down and being patient. If you don’t feel comfortable maintaining your usual speed during heavy rain, then slow down. Truck driving in bad weather means giving yourself a lot of extra time to decrease your speed, increasing the distance between you and other drivers on the road, and often going slower than the posted speed limit.
- Even if you stick to all of the best truck driver safety tips, rushing through intense weather will increase the risks of an accident. So, don’t use your cruise control, keep your lights on, and be patient.
Check the weather along your route.
- Give yourself advance warning of any possible storms crossing your route.
- Plan possible stops at truck stops or other safe locations in case you do not feel safe driving through the weather. If you deem the road conditions are unfit to drive, contact your Driver Manager or Business Manager and inform them of the situation.
- Can a semi-truck and trailer hydroplane? Yes. A commercial truck is heavier than a passenger car but it still follows the rules of physics.
- Under normal highway conditions, Trans Am Trucking recommends maintaining at least a 7-second following distance.
- However, during inclement weather tractions decrease.
- If you are driving while it is raining, we recommend increasing your following distance even further.
- You may be driving at a slower pace, but you increase your chances of arriving at your destination safely.
Make sure your lights and windshield wipers are working.
- During your pre- and post-trip inspections don’t forget to check your lights and windshield wipers.
- Visibility decreases during inclement weather.
- Increase your safety by turning on your lights.
- You want to see and be seen.
Avoid parking on grassy or hard dirt surfaces.
- If it is raining or recently rained, avoid parking on grass and compact dirt, especially along a road’s shoulder.
- Be aware of puddles or standing water as they can compromise the integrity of the ground beneath them.
- Parking on saturated ground can cause the tires to slide down embankments or sink into the mud, causing unnecessary delays or damage to your truck and/or trailer.
Try to avoid driving or turning around on dirt lots.
Compact dirt roads and parking lots usually turn into mud swamps after and/or during a rainstorm. Spinning tires on heavy trucks kick up mud, sinking the tires in the ground like the truck is standing on quicksand. The best way to avoid getting stuck is avoid these areas, if possible.
Keep your radio on with the low volume
- You can monitor stations that provide weather updates so you can get any alerts on the latest weather conditions without being distracted.
- The volume shouldn’t be too loud that you can’t hear what’s going on around you (e.g., emergency vehicles).
Increase following distance
Schneider recommends seven seconds of following distance in good conditions, and you may need to add to that in rainy conditions.
Do not use cruise control or engine brake
Using cruise means you lose the feel of the road and may not sense hydroplaning, and your engine brake (Jake brake) on wet and slippery roads could result in loss of traction.
Never over-drive your ability or the ability of your vehicle
- If you are not comfortable with the situation, get off the roadway safely (not on the shoulder, but in a safe parking lot) and take a break until conditions improve.
- Let others know where you are and that you are safely parked.
Do not drive through flooded roads.
- Commercial trucks may sit higher than passenger cars but they are no match for moving water.
- Floods can erode roadways creating potholes and damage you cannot see.
- If the water is high enough, it can flood your engine or sweep you and your truck down the road.
- Remember, it is possible for trucks to become stuck and stranded in floodwaters.