This time of the year, in many respects, can be the MOST hazardous for drivers, especially for truckers- who often travel from one extreme to the next. Until it is summer, we are very often faced with cold temperatures at night and warm ones during the day.
If you combine this with storms and precipitation extremes of many areas in April and May, you could wind up with some unexpected conditions. While it may be sunny and beautiful in many locales, you can very quickly encounter winter or stormy driving conditions well into the summer months depending on your location!
Take care of yourself, those who depend on you, and those around you out on the road by following some simple guidelines. Bottom line- no matter what the season or where your route takes you, Safety and getting back home NEVER goes out of style.
We’ve all heard it, and it gets old, right? But, it’s the truth. Be prepared… I mean really prepared, and that leaves very little to chance. For instance:
• Pack things you may- or may not- need (if you don’t have them… you’ll probably NEED them)
• Pack extra clothing, water, some snacks.
• Pack a flashlight- a GOOD one, and be sure it’s got fresh batteries
• Pack some basic tools. Let’s be honest, you’re not going to re-build the whole truck, but what if you needed to replace a coupling on an air line or a glad-hand? 2 adjustable wrenches, a replacement part or two, and some Teflon tape could be the difference between moving- OR not!
• If you MIGHT need tire chains, even if they are ONLY required by law from November to March, even you’ll never put them on… PACK them.
• Any other things you’ve ever wanted (within reason) and not had… that’s right- PACK it.
• Do your pre and post-trip inspections. They are required by law and you might be surprised what you find. Sure, some things might be able to “let go” for a day or three. Others… maybe not.
• Remember, it’s ALWAYS better to be broke down and getting service at the truck stop than alongside the highway… in the middle of nowhere!
Plenty Of Space:
• Don’t tailgate, and don’t allow yourself to be tailgated.
• Move over, slow down, speed up… do whatever it takes to get out of everyone else’s way and get to where you’re going- safe!
Easy on the Throttle:
The gas can be your friend or it can bite you. Forget about fuel mileage or speed limits, even though these things are important. Just starting out can be the ending. If you step down too hard too fast- you might find yourself spun out and sideways… tipped over, in a parking lot! I’ve seen it, and would hate to explain how I shifted a load and rolled a trailer before EVER getting out of the yard!
Easy on the Wheel:
Hold the steering wheel easy, it is your friend and all what will keep you going in a straight line. Listen, while it’s important to keep a firm grip, this isn’t 1977 with the big 3 foot wide steering wheels and no power steering. Back then, you literally could and would break a knuckle if the wheel got away from you. Today, we can be a bit easier, though still remain cautious. Plus, the less pressure you put on the wheel, you’ll find that the lower your blood pressure will be.
Easy on the Brakes:
The brakes can and will stop your vehicle. But- do you want to stop all in a hurry- shift a load, heat up all 18 wheels, and deliver a hot and steaming pile to your receiver? Worse yet, go down a steep grade too quick, and heat those suckers up… if you start a brake fire, you won’t be putting it out with that little extinguisher under your seat. Brake fires usually result in a lost trailer, and possibly the tractor too! But, even more than that, save your brakes and use them wisely. Engage your Jake Brake- it’ll mean less time in the shop, more time on the road, and more $$$’s in your pocket.
The 3-A’s, Apply in Life… and in Trucking:
Always Look Ahead–
Look as far ahead as your horizons will allow, and then plan accordingly!
Always Keep Your Eyes Moving–
Look around… ALL around. Only then can you have an actual picture of everything that you’re up against.
Always Have An OUT–
Plan for it, one day you WILL come up against a bad situation… where will you go? Know in advance. Prepare for the worst. Do I brake; do I take the shoulder; will I be forced into the ditch? Whatever the case, you are preparing so that you and those around you can come out of any situation safely!
In closing- begin each day by doing what is necessary to go home each night! This includes proper planning, maintenance, and continuing training. It also means getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, and getting some exercise along the way.
Drive safe, be safe, and come home safe… Anything other than that, and you’re what they call a STATISTIC.