According to Punxsutawney Phil, winter isn’t done with us yet. Do you have the proper truck driver gear to stay safe and comfortable in severe weather conditions? According to “Trucker G” at Driver Solutions, adding winter gear to your truck supplies may seem like common sense, but many drivers wait until the last minute to plan for winter weather, which means important items can easily be forgotten.
Trucker G and his driving partner suggest planning ahead by stocking your truck with these must-haves from their Winter Driving Survival Checklist:
- A good-quality, thick jacket.
- Shoes that will stay dry in ice and snow.
- Warm socks and gloves.
- Emergency blankets.
- Food and water supplies.
Peanut butter and crackers are an easy option for a protein snack for delayed stays in your truck due to hazardous driving conditions. Ramen noodles and extra water for cooking can provide a quick, warm meal.
“Have food that you can heat up and food that you don’t have to heat up, just in case something happens,” Trucker G says. “Be prepared.”
Emergency blankets come in small packs that don’t take up much space. Even if you don’t need a blanket, you may find someone else stuck in bad weather who needs it. Having extra food on hand can really help someone who’s stranded without winter provisions.
Trucker G also suggests adding a hammer to your must-have tools, for knocking ice off the brakes, or a small propane torch that can be used to melt ice off the drums, and prevent the drums from sticking to the brakes. Keep anti-gel on hand for your fuel.
Bunk heaters can help keep you warm and comfortable, but only if they’re in proper working order. Just like a truck needs regular maintenance, it’s important to check the heater to make sure it is functioning properly before hitting the road.
“Go through your checklist and make sure you’re prepared,” Trucker G says. “That’s the key to becoming successful in trucking: to always be prepared for the unexpected.”
Essential Tire Gear & Safety Protocols
While going through your winter checklist of truck driver gear, check online weather sources about changing conditions. These may include NOAA, Weather.com, and other apps as appropriate for your state’s road and traffic conditions. Many state laws require you to use chains in winter driving conditions, so an ounce of prevention can save you hundreds of dollars in state fines.
If conditions require you to install chains, be sure to inspect them before draping them over your tires. Lay them flat on the ground to ensure there is no damage from previous wear and tear. Catherine MacMillan of Smart Trucking recommends picking up the chain on the side further away from you, when draping the chain over each wheel.
To make this process a bit easier, she suggests:
- Use an old piece of a mudflap or a plastic floor runner to avoid the mess caused by hooking up chains on the wet or snow-covered ground.
- Grab the chain around the middle and drape it over the wheel, so it is distributed as evenly as possible over the wheel.
- Check that the clips are secure and that the cross chains are facing outward, so they don’t rub on the sidewall of the tire.
When installing chains, be aware of potential slips, trips, and falls that are the leading causes of workplace injuries for truck drivers. When moving about on wet or slippery surfaces, use extra caution and always use three points of contact when entering and exiting trucks, trailers, and other facilities.
It’s also important to remember to check your route before driving in winter weather, in case conditions are extreme enough to warrant staying put. Make absolutely certain you can manage the route in chains. If not, it may be time to sit it out. Never attempt to navigate a winter storm if you are uncertain you can manage the route safely.
PAM Pro Winter Gear
Having the right truck driving gear can not only make life on the road safer, but it can help you stay comfortable and make those long hauls more enjoyable. The PAM Transport Store offers affordable winter wear options for men and women, from long-sleeved layering shirts and fleece hoodies to duck cloth work jackets and Class 3 safety windbreakers. Plus, drivers can now purchase winter gear from PAM’s 40th Anniversary website, in addition to the regular PAM Transport Store.
Accessories like knit caps, Mag-Lite flashlights and leather work gloves are useful if you find yourself outside installing tire chains or de-icing your drums. Having an insulated thermos or tumbler can keep you warm and alert, so you can focus on navigating your route.
What’s more, you can win PAM 40th Anniversary gear by entering the PAM Winter Wonderland Photo Contest on Facebook. Simply post your best winter photos before March 31. Look for the hashtags #Q1PhotoContest and #PAMWinterWonderland. Please note that as always, drivers must NEVER take photos or videos while driving or operating equipment.
Want to work for a company that’s committed to keeping truck drivers safe? See our available jobs today!