On the Arrive Alive website we find a rather comprehensive discussion on Safe Driving in Bad Weather. We decide to gain some additional insights by way of a Q&A with Sean Gray from Nosa Training. This is aimed specifically at our truck drivers and their unique challenges!
What would be unique to the threats our truck drivers encounter in bad weather/ heavy rains?
- Breakdowns, driver pulling over and making a wrong decision.
- Drivers not understanding braking, retarder system and over breaking causing truck and trailer to jackknife.
- Incorrectly loaded trailer causing loss of traction on the diff axles on a mountain pass causing the vehicle to slide backwards.
- All threats encountered happen in the blink of an eye and when least expected.
- Speeding in bad weather, heavy rains and mist, incorrect placement of triangles behind a breakdown vehicle, driving with a fogged-up windscreen and driving too close to the rear trailer water spray are some of many signs of an inexperienced driver.
Do the behaviour and unpredictability of other modes of transport bring about unique challenges they might need to be aware of?
- Drivers driving too slow and without lights on.
- Vehicles that have stopped on the side of the road or under bridges.
- Speedsters are impatient and refrain from putting enough space and time between themselves and the next driver.
- Slower large vehicles often have their speed misjudged which results in evasive action.
How important might driving experience be when faced with such challenges?
- Driving experience is vital and plays a great roll on the handling of the situation and vehicle in a mature manner, thinking, reacting and recovering in the correct manner.
- Inexperienced drivers need all their attention on the road and would not be able to cope with additional tasks limiting them in demanding and unexpected situations.
Do the challenges vary according to the weight of the truck and cargo?
- Vehicle Weight- loaded under vehicle capacity, loaded according to vehicle capacity and overloading a vehicle keeping in mind loading dynamics and overall vehicle stability
- Cargo – temperature-controlled, livestock, dangerous goods drivers need to be qualified and possess specialized knowledge
- Load placement has a lot to do with vehicle handling and dynamics
- Load transfer releases extra tension axle to axle causing inconsistencies and vehicle balance
Are there any additional changes in driving behaviour they might encounter?
- Width of road surfaces
- Safe stopping areas for rest stops or in breakdown/emergency cases is limited
What would the “perfect storm” be in such a scenario – if heavy rains are combined with strong winds, hail, night driving etc?
- Confusion, inexperience and reduced ability to discover, recognize and react against potentially dangerous situation during the storm…panic!
We always advise motorists not to drive through flowing water – would the same advice apply to truck drivers or do we have some advice on the depth of water?
- The same advise will apply to ALL motorists not to drive through any flowing waters but once committed see it through till the end
Any other bits of advice not yet covered above that is worth sharing with our truck drivers?
- Always predict what the other road users are going to do and take your regular rest breaks.