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It’s that time of year again…snow, ice, cold temperatures, and all the other fun that comes with winter. Especially for all of us living in places where we have seen some pretty ugly winters, we should all be used to driving in winter weather, but every year, it seems some people forget how to drive. For new drivers, this can be a little overwhelming, but don’t be afraid! We’re here to share some tips with you on how to survive this winter as a new truck driver.

Be prepared

You always need to be ready for whatever comes your way. This seems like common sense, but it has happened before when you go to hop in your truck and expect a beautiful day ahead, and it turns into an ugly storm. So, how do you stay prepared? The most important thing you can do is to prepare an emergency kit.

What should this emergency kit have in it?

  • Extra appropriate clothing – loose layered clothing, gloves, rain gear, a hat, etc).
  • A coat to any temperature, day or night
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Food and water
  • Bag of sand or salt
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid and windshield scraper
  • Jumper cables, tire chains, traction mats

Also, be sure to keep at least a half-tank of gas in your tank at all times. Plan long trips carefully.

Pre-trip inspection

As a trucker, you are required to have your truck inspected before every trip. This includes a visual, hands-on inspection and getting all important items checked. This should be done more often in the winter.

Slow down and give yourself plenty of space

Avoid an accident by keeping a steady, appropriate speed for road conditions, don’t follow too closely to other vehicles, and don’t travel as part of a pack. Your goal should be to maximize the distance around your truck; stay away from “packs” in traffic.

Use good judgment

If your gut instinct is telling you something’s not right, follow it. Don’t put yourself in a life-threatening situation. If you need to get off the road because they are too dangerous to travel on, do it. Find a safe place to get off the road and away from the danger and wait until it is safe to begin your travels again.

Don’t be the hero

You may feel like you are in a stressful situation when you need to be somewhere and the roads are bad. Don’t feel like you are letting anyone down by waiting until the weather is better to continue your job. No load is worth your life.

Know you and your truck’s limitations!

Don’t engage the jake brake

Some truckers like to use the jake brake and some do not. Avoid engaging the jake brake on icy roads.

Watch for warning signs and black ice

Look for ice buildup on your windshield because it is a clue that conditions are right for black ice. When you are approaching shaded areas, bridges and overpasses, slow down; these are the sections of the road that freeze faster than others.

Warning signs could include vehicles spun out in the median or shoulder; this means the roads are really bad and you should proceed with caution. It is advised, however, that you get off the roads if you see vehicles spun out.

Always carry your cell phone and keep it charged

Cell phone batteries freeze in extremely cold weather. Don’t leave your cell phone in your cab for an extended period of time.

Be smart. Smart truckers are always prepared for whatever comes their way, whether this be bad weather conditions or something else entirely, know your limits. Use common sense and your best judgment. Do what you need to do to stay safe. Safety rules.
Roeder Cartage Co. Inc. drivers also have the benefit of a great support team to help them out when an emergency strikes. With dispatchers who are always on top of every situation, top-of-the-line safety training and a family atmosphere, our drivers’ safety is always priority one.