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Winter weather introduces a host of safety issues for even the most seasoned drivers. Plummeting temperatures, icy roads, and blinding snowstorms are just a few of the hazards that come with driving through during the snowy season. Just because you may have reduced visibility or a number of other factors working against you doesn’t mean you can’t be safe. Besides knowing the severe winter weather laws in each state, here are some winter driving tips for work vans and trucks to keep in mind when driving in inclement weather.

Best Winter Driving Tips for Work Vans & Trucks

#1. Stay on Top of Maintenance

Keeping your vehicle properly maintained is important for a number of reasons. Besides, a poorly-maintained vehicle is dangerous in any condition. However, during wintery weather, little problems that have been left unaddressed can create a catastrophe.

Keep your vehicle up-to-date with regular maintenance. Underinflated tires may negatively impact your gas mileage, but compounded by icy roads, can lead to an impact of epic proportions. Similarly, if you have braking or steering component problems, address them right away. The small issue that you put off can not only grow into a larger issue over time but add in a good snowstorm and you are compounding the problem and putting your safety, and the safety of others on the road, in jeopardy.

Never skip your pre-trip inspection for items like fluids, tire condition, and wiper blades. It only takes a short time in winter conditions to drastically reduce your visibility if your wiper blades are in poor condition.

#2. Increase Your Stopping Distance

You don’t need a physics degree to know that momentum is always working against bigger vehicles. Even in the most ideal driving conditions, cargo vans and loaded work trucks have a much longer stopping distance than typical passenger vehicles. One of the most important winter driving tips is to increase your stopping distance.

When roads look like they’re clearing up, ice could be anywhere. And even the best braking system can’t help you if your vehicle has no traction on the road. It is always best to treat winter roads like the hazards they are and be sure to create enough distance for safe stopping. It will not only keep you and other vehicles safe, but will decrease the likelihood of damaged or shifting cargo.

#3. Avoid Impromptu Convoys

Highway travel tends to drift into packs. Whether with other vehicles or with major pockets of traffic, these groupings of vehicles form naturally but can be dangerous when the road conditions are less than desirable. 

When there are more vehicles around you, there is an increased risk to you, your truck, and your cargo if they lose control.  Additionally, you also pose more of a risk to nearby vehicles if you happen to lose control as stopping distances increase for everyone.

Keeping safety first and foremost, another of the winter driving tips is try find a legal speed that keeps you separated from major groupings of traffic.

#4. Shoulder Parking Is Dangerous

It’s not uncommon for contractors to need to pull off to the shoulder to deal with maintenance issues, handle problems, or take a phone call. However, winter weather and icy roads makes this routine practice exceptionally dangerous.

Very often, snow plowed off roads and highways results in narrower shoulders. Slick conditions can make it hard for cars to avoid you, especially if plowed snow results in the shoulders having less space for you to pull off than usual. Keeping these factors in mind and doing your best to avoid pulling off on a shoulder is also one of our top winter driving tips.

According to truck accident investigation company Evidence Solutions, Inc., “When a commercial vehicle driver parks an 18-wheeler or other large Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) in this ‘recovery zone’ the driver has placed an eminent hazard to any vehicle which may depart, for whatever reason, from the travel portion of the roadway.”  There may be an emergency scenario where pulling off onto the shoulder is unavoidable, nevertheless the ideal scenario is finding the nearest rest stop.

#5. Don’t Risk a Low-Fuel Finish

It’s a fact that getting stranded on the road during the dead of winter isn’t just bad for business; it’s a risk to your safety. Any number of unplanned things such as accidents and other impasses can make trips take longer than expected. It’s important to have enough fuel for your trip no matter the weather.

One of the most basic winter driving tips is to keep your fuel topped off whenever possible. This can be achieved simply by being more proactive about refueling than you may be during better driving conditions. More frequent fuel stops can also have the added benefit of increased alertness and reduced joint and muscle fatigue as you get out and move around your vehicle.

#6. “Aim High” When Watching the Road

It’s not a surprise to anyone that snow storms can reduce visibility. So, make sure you’re ready for anything that might appear suddenly. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to keep sight as far ahead as possible to avoid surprises. A good rule of thumb and one of the winter driving tips for drivers is to “aim high,” or look down the road 12-15 seconds further ahead of you. This allows you to recognize any potential hazards and react in a timely manner – before they become actual hazards! 

Remember to operate your vehicle relative to your viewing distance. In ideal weather, 12-15 seconds down the road may equate to a quarter of a mile or more but in severe weather, that distance becomes drastically reduced.

#7. Stay Visible

When driving in less-than-optimal conditions, seeing other vehicles is only half the battle. Being sure that you are staying visible for other drivers keeps you just as safe as it keeps them, and is an important winter driving tip. One way to accomplish this is to be sure to clean the lights on your vehicle and your trailer at every stop.

Keep an eye out for snowy weather and expect it to continually cover the lights on your vehicle. It can accumulate quickly and nearly “erase” you from the view of the other drivers – especially at night. “Stealth mode” may be great for action heroes in the movies, but it is not safe for you or any vehicle on the road. Be sure your lights are all working properly and take whatever precautions you need to be sure you can be seen.

#8. Hope for the Best, Equip for the Worst

When it comes right down to it, no matter what the weather, driving safely is the best thing you can do to decrease your chance of an accident. One of the best ways to stay safe is to be aware of other drivers on the road and their potential mistakes. However, even the best intentions and the most careful driving can’t guarantee an accident or breakdown won’t occur. Knowing that, you can always hope for the best, but the final driving tip for you is to always pack an emergency kit.

Even the best drivers should be prepared with emergency road kits that include everything from flares to blankets in case you need to hold out in the cold until emergency services can arrive. The best emergency kit is the one that is always ready but never needs to be used because the combination of all your safe driving tips and skills has kept you, your equipment, and the other vehicles on the road safe.

Contact Semi Service Today

Don’t get left out in the cold, we can help answer your questions! The snowy season is here, so let our experts help you sooner rather than later.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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