Driver safety is paramount in every situation. When a thunderstorm comes on suddenly while you’re on the road or your fleet is spread across the state delivering loads, it can be worrisome. High winds, pelting hail, and slippery road conditions put drivers at risk. Common during the spring and summer months, these storms aren’t always easy to predict. That’s why it’s essential to have strong safety protocols in place, long before your drivers hit the roads. Keep your fleet of semi-trucks and trailers up to date on maintenance and service appointments. Whether you are running retread tires or new tires the performance should be the same, as long as you have your fleet’s tires checked regularly by tire service professionals.
The following Truck Driving Safety tips may help make driving safer even when a sudden storm picks up.
Spend some time ensuring you know what to expect for the day ahead. Today’s weather apps and tools make it easier for you to pinpoint specific areas of high risk. When possible, alter your route or the timing of your route to avoid those high-risk periods. Use the National Weather Service as your go-to tool for information.
Floods are dangerous situations, especially for semi-trucks that can be quickly swept away in them. Don’t move through more than a few inches of water. It takes just 12 inches of water (and sometimes less if it is fast moving) to move your truck. Wait for it to clear or find an alternative route instead.
The lights and wipers on your truck are some of the most important tools you have to get through storms. Be sure they are all operational before heading out. It’s also a good idea to clean the lights to ensure there’s no dirt limiting their intensity. That could put you at risk of being hit by another driver or not seeing objects in darker conditions.
You may be in a hurry but staying too close to the vehicle in front of you puts you both at risk, particularly as the braking distance of big rigs is substantial. It’s not likely to encourage them to speed up either. More so, you don’t want people to travel at a speed that makes them feel less safe as that could make them a nervous driver, putting you at risk. Keep an extra cushion of space behind any other driver, even those who cut in front of you randomly.
When skidding, which can happen more readily in wet conditions, steer into the skid instead of trying to steer out of it. Steering away from it puts your vehicle at a higher risk of flipping over. Work to straighten your trailer by steering in the direction that the vehicle is moving. Avoid slamming on the brakes. Take your foot off the gas pedal and let the vehicle come to a stop on its own. As mentioned above, your retread tires and new tires must be regularly inspected to ensure your safety when navigating through stormy weather.
Driving when there’s a tornado nearby is very dangerous. When possible, steer clear of the area and get off the road if you’re worried you may not make it around the predicted tornado zone in time. The risks are highest in areas like highway overpasses and open spaces. When winds pick up, keep both hands on the wheel and go only as fast as is safe. If you feel the truck pushing into another lane, move over. If you see a tornado, get off the road, then get down low in the driver’s seat and cover your head with a blanket. When possible, leave the rig and lay as low as possible in a ditch.
Avoid driving over downed power lines. If one touches your truck, don’t attempt to get out. Instead, call for help or back up. If you have to leave the rig, jump clear of the wire and then instantly shuffle your feet. Don’t run, but keep your feet close together on the ground to keep electricity from moving up your body.
STTC offers 24/7 emergency road service when you need it, including replacement retread tires when you have a blowout after a storm. Give us a call now at 610-954-8473 or contact us online when you need trailer maintenance.
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