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Thursday, December 28 2017
The hazards of winter weather for truck drivers

Orlando, Fla. — It’s the beginning of the Winter Season and for us in Orlando it doesn’t represent a big issue, except for foggy mornings that make our driving time a little difficult and risky. Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers. 

Employers should set and enforce driver safety policies. Employers should also implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate. Crashes can be avoided. Learn more at: Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA Safety and Health Topic’s Page). Also, employers must ensure to have insurance coverage that is in good standing.

Some owner operators do need to travel interstate and may face bigger trouble and risks on the road. The longer the haul or the steeper the terrain, as in certain areas of the central and western United States, the more dangerous it can be. 

Even though the weather may not look bad when you head out, things can change in a hurry. Once cold weather hits, it's best to always be prepared for the worst. So, in other words, if you are not destined to drive south,

being prepared for the best is key.

Here are some some safety tips provided by truckdrivingjobs.com

1) Safety Inspections and Walkarounds

While many companies mandate safety inspections for company drivers, particularly OTR drivers, on a daily basis, many veteran drivers overlook this simple and important step. A low tire can cut fuel mileage, and if the low tire is one of the main drive tires, the driver's control can be severely and dangerously compromised. Besides proper tire inflation and possible damage, the driver should also check the fluids (oil, windshield, transmission, and so on), as well as the wipers and brake lines. 

2) Radio Traffic

Many drivers have gotten out of the habit of monitoring citizen's band (CB) radio traffic in favor of listening to satellite radio such as Sirius. This practice can be problematic because it prevents drivers from getting crucial early warnings about such things as road closures, hazardous conditions, and traffic accidents. Many drivers have learned the hard way that listening to CB traffic may not be the most interesting thing to do, but it can give vital advance warning of unsafe conditions so drivers can alter their travel plans according to weather and related problems.

3) Snow Tires and Chains

Many states, particularly in mountainous areas such as the portion of the US west of the Rocky Mountains, have areas where snow tires and chains are not just recommended, but mandatory. Failure to observe chain laws can result in expensive fines and blights on drivers' records. It can also create dangerous conditions for the driver, the cargo, and other drivers on the road. Many areas where chains are required feature a combination of steep uphill and downhill grades and valleys where snow, ice, and wind come together to produce hazardous weather conditions. Studded snow tires and chains are designed to add traction and prevent slippage on snowy or icy pavement, as well as making stopping or slowing easier and less dangerous under these conditions.

4) Speed Is Deadly

While the overland shipping industry relies heavily on speed to get vital goods from place to place, the fact is that speed is not always a good thing. During winter storm conditions, high winds and low visibility due to blowing snow can severely impact the stability of a load or the vehicle and prevent the driver from seeing obstacles and hazards on or near the roadway. Even more dangerous is so-called "black ice," which creates a nearly frictionless surface on the road that can cause even the biggest tires to slip. Thousands of accidents every year are attributed to black ice. In addition to the potential damage to the vehicle itself, fragile cargoes can easily be damaged or destroyed in such accidents. While owner operators may find themselves facing penalties due to keeping their speeds low, these penalties are trivial compared to losing their cargoes, their lives, or the risk of causing someone else to lose theirs.

5) Pull Over

Unfortunately, all the precautions, skill, and nerve in the world cannot overcome the dangers of severe winter weather. In these situations, it is better for a driver to pull over and find a place to wait out the storm. Many drivers cite the possible expense of not making a delivery as scheduled as a good reason to press on in extreme weather conditions, but if the snow is falling faster than salt and sand trucks or plows can clear it away, this kind of thinking can result in a tragic accident. Of course making a timely delivery is important, but relatively few loads can legitimately be said to be "life or death" matters. Sitting in a motel room or truck stop waiting for a storm to break may not seem like the most cost-effective way of getting from place to place, but contrasted against the risk of having an accident that will assure the load never gets where it's going, most drivers will agree that it is far better to wait.

6) Safety First

Many drivers, when on the job & considering the options and planning their routes to assure timely delivery, assume a set and continuous speed throughout the trip. However, winter driving can change these considerations drastically. Particularly when snow and ice are present, keeping the vehicle's speed constant but slow enough to be able to respond effectively to hazards is a good start. Drivers often talk about "white line fever," where they slip into a fugue state and drive for minutes or hours without recalling one thing they saw. Situations like these are exceptionally dangerous, because the driver's full focus is not on the road. Additionally, odds are good the driver is not checking their mirrors or scanning the road properly. Safety and alertness should always be the first consideration when driving in winter road conditions.

From all of us in Orlando Truck Insurance, we want to wish you a happy and safe holiday season and a great new year for you and your loved ones!

Posted by: Annie Rodriguez AT 11:29 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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