Winter Trucking & Chain Use

As you are no doubt aware, the winter months are here. With the changing season, you’ll need to be watching for changing road conditions, be prepared for inclement weather, and put your winter trucking hat on.

Winter trucking will require additional equipment to be kept on the truck, such as extra clothing, food, water, and ice scrapers, to name a few. Most drivers will be watching weather forecasts for the states they are traveling through for their route, but if you are caught in a heavy snowstorm, don’t be afraid the shut it down and wait it out.

Winter Trucking Tips

When road conditions are good enough to travel, though, here are some tips for winter trucking:

  • While driving in inclement winter weather, you need watch your speed and slow down when necessary. You can be driving on black ice before you know it; slower speeds will help prevent sliding and poor lane control.
  • While traveling, keep a good following distance and leave plenty of space for sudden braking.
  • Always watch bridges and overpasses for ice as they will freeze before the roads will.
  • When driving in mountains, be sure to watch road signs additional for downgrade information and always know equipment to what’s ahead of you.
  • Using the Smith System© is a must with winter driving. This system has proven to reduce accidents in all weather conditions, at all times of the year.

The 5 Keys of the Smith System
  1. Aim high in steering.
  2. Get the big picture.
  3. Keep your eyes moving.
  4. Leave yourself an out.
  5. Make sure they see you.

Winter Trucking Hazards

Some of the most frequent reasons for winter-weather-related accidents are:

  • Limited visibility
  • Limited traction
  • Aggressive braking on slick roads
  • Inability to judge safe speed for conditions
  • Poor shifting skills on slick roads
  • Poor negotiation of a curve
  • Failure to plan route properly
  • Failure to adapt to changing weather patterns

Chaining Up a Semi Truck

When driving in certain areas, you may be required to “chain up.” If you are not mentally prepared to deal with that situation, you should sit it out. There’s nothing more dangerous than an unsure driver navigating through a winter storm. Confidence and knowing your limits is the key.

You will need to know the chain laws in every state you will be traveling through. Watch for road signs or chain up stations that require them past that point. You can also call road rescue or use the Internet to look up chain laws along your route. Here is a good site to visit for chain laws by state for a general overview.

If you are out and need tire chains, you can call your Driver Manager in operations to get a PO to purchase them from a truck stop, or you can pick them up at one of our company shops.

If you are unsure on how to properly put on tire chains, there are good websites with videos, but also follow manufacturers’ directions on how to properly put them on. Here are a few good articles to view to get a general idea:

Installing Chains for Winter on Commercial Big Rig Trucks

How to Install Semi Truck Tire Chains

When installing your tire chains, there is no protective gear or tools required, but it is a good idea to have a good pair of gloves and warm clothes. Gloves can protect your hands from cold temperatures while handling the chains and can also help prevent injury while tightening the chains on the tires.

It can take a little bit of time to properly install the chains, so having warm clothes with you will also be beneficial to accommodate for cold weather.  If you don’t take your time properly chaining up your semi truck, it can lead to frustration and more time outside in the cold.

As always, we appreciate the job you do as a professional driver. Be safe!

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