Winter Driving Safety for Truck Drivers (Part 2)

winter driving

When winter weather starts to set in, your trucking operation may need to take additional steps to ensure winter truck driving safety, help drivers avoid accidents, protect the company truck fleet, and keep company drivers and others on the road out of harm’s way. Even if your operation currently provides drivers with extensive training and protects itself with a thorough Truck insurance policy, it’s crucial to take extra care when wintery weather conditions pose a potential risk. Fortunately, it may be simple to implement defensive wintertime strategies, avoid possible legal complications, and keep your drivers safer than you realize. Here are six crucial safe winter driving tips your trucking operation could implement immediately.

Remind Drivers To Practice Key Defensive Driving Strategies at All Times

When cold, snowy, and icy weather hits while your company drivers are out on the road, it’s more important than ever to practice defensive driving. If it’s been some time since your drivers had a refresher on safe driving skills, you may need to remind them to:

  • Leave plenty of space between their truck and the vehicle in front of them, and avoid merging in front of large, heavy vehicles
  • Check their blind spots before switching lanes and stay below the truck speed limit
  • Always use turn signals and headlights
  • Always keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel
  • Use runaway ramps, slow down, and pull over if weather conditions are too dangerous
  • Wear a safety belt whenever they’re in the vehicle

Implement a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Drunk or Otherwise Impaired Driving

Impaired driving poses a high risk to life and limb at any time of the year, but when impaired driving is combined with inclement winter weather, the risks are even higher. That’s why your operation should always have a zero-tolerance policy for drunk or otherwise impaired drivers. This means that if one of your drivers is caught driving under the influence, his or her employment would be terminated immediately.   Potential termination offenses could include:

  • Driving while drunk
  • Driving while high
  • Driving while sleep-deprived, in some instances
  • Driving while otherwise impaired

Keep Your Vehicle Fleet Clean and Remove Seasonal Driving Hazards

Sleet, snow, frost, and other seasonal driving hazards can all build up on vehicles, impair visibility, and pose a serious risk to your drivers and to others on the road. In the winter, it’s crucial to keep your vehicle fleet clean and work to remove as many hazards as possible. Your drivers should:

  • Shovel snow off the truck and scrape ice off the windshield
  • Keep important safety tools, such as jump-start cables and ice scrapers, in the vehicle at all times
  • Wash the truck often to avoid damage and deterioration from dirt, salt, and other factors
  • Vacuum the interior, disinfect and dust all surfaces, shake out the rugs, install air fresheners, and clear out unnecessary clutter to provide a safer and more pleasant driving environment
  • Ensure the defoggers and the central heating are working properly

Provide Wintertime Training To Help Drivers Avoid Blind Spots and Other Dangers

One potentially effective way your operation can help improve safety levels company-wide is to provide additional wintertime training to all drivers. This training can help your drivers learn to avoid blind spots and other potential dangers on the road. Your company may want to:

  • Mandate additional training for all employees
  • Offer optional training programs and provide incentives or winter bonuses for attending the trainings
  • Encourage drivers to attain or renew certifications to ensure they know how to avoid the most common dangers on the road
  • Provide drivers with tips on how to avoid accidents involving common factors such as blind spots, excess speed, and driver exhaustion or inattentiveness

Equip All Company Vehicles To Handle Long-Distance Wintertime Driving

Beyond equipping company truck drivers with essential wintertime skills and knowledge, it’s also important to equip all company vehicles to handle long-distance drives in the winter weather. To that end, your managers should:

  • Check that the wipers are functioning
  • Ensure all fluids are topped up
  • Check whether the oil and/or the anti-freeze need to be changed
  • Service the radiator and the cooling system
  • Check that the brakes are working properly
  • Thoroughly inspect the battery
  • Place a change of spare tires, including snow tires, inside the vehicle

Encourage Your Truck Drivers To Practice Everyday Self-Care and Healthy Habits

Lastly, your company should encourage all truck drivers to practice healthy habits and regular self-care. A tired, dehydrated, hungry, or distracted driver can pose a serious danger on the road, especially during the winter, so make sure your drivers are:

  • Drinking enough water and other liquids, such as tea or coffee
  • Sleeping eight or more hours nightly
  • Taking regular breaks during the drive to avoid exhaustion
  • Staying off their phones and avoiding other distractions
  • Eating healthy snacks throughout the drive to stay sharp and focused
  • Learning to identify signs of drowsiness or highway hypnosis and know when to pull off to the side of the road

If your trucking operation is looking for simple ways to implement winter weather safety strategies, these six essential tips can help the company get on the right track. Whether your aim is to reduce legal liabilities, avoid potential accidents, or minimize other common wintertime dangers, supplementing your company Truck insurance policy with key safety steps can prove invaluable. You can share this list with your truck drivers and start implementing some of these tips to help ensure winter driving safety at your trucking operation.

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Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!