Safety On Winter Roads

Driving on winter roads can be the most dangerous operation with a Big Rig and you have to be extremely careful. If tire chains are required, make sure you have had training in installation before you actually have to use them.

Practice your downshift driving on steep downgrades to get familiar with the procedure. This may alleviate danger in the event of a mistake that requires reactions to be like second nature.

1) MAINTAIN PULL ON THE TRAILER
If you are required to down shift when climbing a mountain to maintain speed, be very careful on icy roads. To keep rpm’s (or rotation per minute), downshift to the next lower gear if this happens before the rpm’s exceed 2,200. This allows for a generally smoother transition on icy roads.

2)USING YOUR BRAKES
Descend the mountain or downgrade the gear to the one below the gear needed to summit the incline. This reduces the amount of heat your brakes will generate. Trucks that are equipped with a Jake Brake may use this feature to slow on decline, however the Jake Brake is not recommended if the snow is so cold it is iced and slippery. Maintain a safe speed on the downgrade.

3.) DO NOT OVERHEAT THE BRAKES
This is your ultimate goal. You must apply light steady pressure to the brake pedal so the brakes do not get overheated.That can result in melted airlines and loosing all use of air brakes. Only an experienced driver should consider attempting to drive down a mountain in winter weather.

4.) WATCH YOUR NOSE
Keep the nose of the truck to high side. The high side of the curves should be focused on when driving along tight windy roads at steep inclines.
This maintains the lane to allow off-tracking of the trailer as it is pulled as a slower speed can result in a higher off tracking than pulling speed. The driver must take care to mind trailer tandems as the edge of the road or mountain side may be steeper in tight areas.

5) MAKE SURE YOU CAN SEE
Ensure your windshield blades are new and efficient. If you have trouble seeing your chances of an accident increase by 85%.

6.) RUN THE AIR CONDITIONER
In order to remove condensation and frost from the interior of windows, engage your air-conditioner and select the fresh air option: It’s fine to set the temperature on “hot.” Many trucks automatically do this when you choose the defrost setting.

7) CHECK YOUR LIGHTS
Use your headlights so that others will see you and, we hope, not pull out in front of you. Make sure your headlights, trailer lights and all taillights are clear of snow. If you have an older truck with sand-pitted headlights, get a new set of lenses. To prevent future pitting, cover the new lens with a clear tape like that used to protect the leading edge of helicopter rotor blades and racecar wings. It’s available from auto-racing supply sites.