Surviving The Winter

Topic 73 | Page 1

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Britton R.'s Comment
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Last week we got a bit of snow which caused interstate 70 to close for a while. It got me thinking about a few things. First, how do truckers deal with severe winter weather? In a situation I saw there wasnt much a driver could do if they were on the road during it. They would just have to sit and wait. But for those planning a load or things like that what do you do? Do you just park and wait for it to pass or try to muscle through to make the drop?

My biggest concern is for new drivers is how they drive during icy conditions. It seems like it could be very easy (depending on your start date) to go through all of the training and even be solo before ever experiencing bad weather. Then if you happen to be from the southwest where you may not ever experience that weather in a car let alone a bigrig. How are drivers trained to deal with snow and ice?

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
But for those planning a load or things like that what do you do? Do you just park and wait for it to pass or try to muscle through to make the drop?

Well it all starts with following the weather closely so you know what's in store a day or two ahead of time whenever possible. I can't tell you how many times over the years I was able to avoid storms altogether or at least get safely hunkered down before they hit because I was watching the weather closely. Numerous times I've been chased from West to East all the way across the country by big storms and made sure I never stopped so long that it would catch me. Other times I saw storms coming or knew I'd be going through treacherous terrain in the winter and changed routes entirely. So it starts by knowing what's going on around you and possibly avoiding it altogether.

If it can't be avoided and you don't feel safe in the conditions, you simply park it until you're comfortable driving again. Now the sooner you can tell dispatch that problems may be looming, the better. That way they can let customer service know there are delays and everyone can deal with them accordingly.

But in the end, it all comes down to driver discretion. If you're not comfortable, don't drive, and don't let anyone else influence your decision-making. I'll tell you right now, you will never find a storm so severe that nobody will take the risk of driving through it. If the roads are open, there will be drivers on the highway and they will make a point of mocking anyone sitting in the truck stops on the CB as if the people who chose to safely wait it out are the dumb ones. Don't be suckered into risking your life and your careeer. That sounds easy sitting here talking about it, but when you're out there and you're sitting idly by not making money while others are, it's always tempting.

How are drivers trained to deal with snow and ice?

The schools and trainers tell you "go slow and..."good-luck.gif

Seriously, there is very little training about how to handle slick roads. You slow your speed, you increase your following distance, you turn off your Jake Brakes, you go very gentle on the pedals, and get slowed down enough entering a curve that you never have to touch the brakes while in a curve.

There are a couple of companies - US XPress was one of them - that use skid pads to teach certain techniques. But that's pretty rare. Not many drivers ever get that opportunity.

Now I'm from outside of Buffalo, NY so I've driven in snow a time or two. What I used to do was find big, wide-open parking lots at night in the winter and practice. And I'm serious. I used to practice things like going slowly around a curve and pulling my trailer brake to make sure I could "steer with the trailer" to prevent a jackknife. Or I would start into a curve and punch the gas so the tractor would start to fishtail and I would practice recovering it, again preventing a jackknife. I would do anything I could think of to get those tires to break loose and then find my way out of it.

And believe me, that experience was priceless. There were several times over the years I had my rig break lose on patches of ice and I can honestly say that for most people it would've ended horribly. Fortunately I had a ton of experience in the snow and practiced as much as possible so I was able to pull myself out of it and never scratched a truck all those years.

Watch the weather closely at all times, practice whenever you get the chance, and park it anytime you're uncomfortable. Remember, most severe storms are followed by several days of beautiful, sunny weather. You'll have the entire rest of your lifetime to make up for a day or two of down time. Do not take any chances.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Steve B.'s Comment
member avatar

My biggest concern is for new drivers is how they drive during icy conditions.

I took my CDL school last week of Jan first weeks in FEB - we had it all: snow, ice, freezing rain, -20 wind chill with highs around -10, yes it was winter at its best. The instructors keep on teaching. We had our road time and went slow, practiced shifting and down shifting. I would say just go slow and if it is REAL ICY stop: you have to. No reason to endanger yourself or someone else. Most places will have roads open in less than 12hrs. Also most states have sites so you can watch what the road conditions are: http://www.511mn.org/default.asp?area=statewide

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
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Winter Driving Tips
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