The commercial trucking industry is known as one with numerous operational risks. When winter weather approaches, these risks can be compounded by slippery driving conditions and reduced visibility. No matter the weather, the commercial trucking industry is the lifeblood of American commerce; dangerous road conditions must be met with safety-oriented approaches in order to ensure transport of essential goods. As a means of risk management, fleet owners can supplement the protections of semi truck fleet insurance with a thorough understanding of winter driving risks. Armed with this information, truck drivers can be trained to avoid common mistakes in winter driving, helping to keep them and their fellow travelers safe on America’s roads.
Treacherous Winter Conditions: Putting Truck Drivers at Risk
The role of a commercial truck driver is always filled with risks. Colder climates and wintery weather make these risks even larger – potentially causing property damage, loss, and injury. Accumulations of ice and snow can make road surfaces all but impassable; add in precipitation and fog and drivers can be exposed to dangerous driving conditions. Winter weather can cause:
- Reduced visibility
- Increased braking distance
- Delays in delivery of cargo loads
- Hydroplaning or loss of grip on slippery roadways
According to figures compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, over 1000 people are killed on America’s roads each year as a result of wintery conditions. It is estimated that about 17% of all motor vehicle crashes occur during winter, including those involving commercial vehicles. Semi truck fleet insurance is crucial at all times, but especially in areas where winter weather may be encountered.
Keeping Drivers Safe: Tips for Navigating Winter Driving Conditions
Driver safety begins with training. For drivers who can be expected to operate wherever wintery conditions occur, focused training on safe driving practices can not only save lives, but it can also reduce the number and severity of claims on semi truck fleet insurance policies. Winter safety training can include basics like:
Performing pre-trip inspections – ensuring that vehicle tires, lighting, and braking is in good repair before traveling.
Reducing driving speeds – on-time delivery of cargo is an important part of the commercial transportation industry. Winter conditions necessitate slowing down, however; drivers must match speeds to the road conditions they encounter.
Increasing distance between vehicles – because roadways may become slick in winter weather, increasing the space between the driver’s truck and leading or following vehicles can help provide a better cushion in case of emergency braking or hydroplaning/slipping.
Acceleration and braking – the keys to safe roadway operation in winter is to lightly accelerate and brake. Sudden increases or decreases in speed can cause the truck to become out of control on slippery surfaces.
Steering input – just like accelerating and braking, steering should be conducted with a light touch in winter. This can prevent vehicles from losing traction and sliding into other vehicles or roadside fixtures.
Awareness of road conditions – drivers should receive training on spotting “black ice” on roadways, such as the lack of tire spray from other vehicles and buildups of ice on truck equipment like mirrors and antennas.
Bridge awareness – elevated bridges may freeze before surrounding roadways do. Drivers should approach bridges with extra caution, even if conditions do not appear to be icy.
More Winter Safety Tips for Drivers
It is all but inevitable that even safe driving practices in winter are not always enough to prevent incidents. If a driver becomes stuck or slides off the roadway, there are certain aspects that can help keep them safe. Winter driving tips include:
- Drivers should be instructed to remain within the safety of their vehicles. Leaving the vehicle can result in getting lost as well as becoming exposed to freezing air and moisture.
- Drivers should be ready to get off the road or alter routes if winter weather is approaching. No delivery is so crucial that drivers should be pushed to drive in treacherous conditions. Listen to weather reports and have alternate routes ready in case of emergency.
- Drivers should be equipped with emergency provisions, including cold weather clothing, drinking water, food, tire chains, and emergency flares or flashers.
Fleet owners must ensure that their semi truck fleet insurance is up to date and reflects the risks encountered in winter driving. With this valuable insurance and with driver safety training, commercial transportation can continue safely no matter what winter weather comes your way.
About Gain Insurance Agency
Gain Insurance Agency protects trucking businesses against liabilities and claims in the industry. We combine products provided by respected insurance providers with our expertise and custom packages to meet customers’ individual needs. Our goal is to give you the coverage that you need at the lowest possible price. To learn more about our products and services, contact us today at (877) 424-3344.