As we prepare for winter driving there are a few things we can do to have a safe, winter driving season. Driving large trucks is challenging in fair weather, let alone in poor, wintry conditions. There are many proactive precautions, as well as reactive techniques that can ensure driver safety, as well as those sharing the road during these icy conditions. Below are a few proactive solutions and driving techniques which you may find helpful:
- Assess the conditions ahead before arriving. Always drive defensively yet deliberately. Maintain complete and confident control of the steering wheel and avoid any driving distractions, such as a cell phone or unsettling music.
- Increase following distance by as much as 10 seconds above the normal, which can ensure adequate reaction time in the case of an imminent collision. Drive slowly and brake gently using the ball of the foot rather than the entire foot.
- Avoid accelerating on uphill slopes, rather maintaining a constant speed while ascending the hill. One way to do this is to gather enough forward momentum from the previous downhill to climb the current hill without using much engine power. The more torque available to the wheels, the more likely they are to slip. On the same note, higher gears are more favorable while climbing because they limit that available torque. Lower gears make slipping while accelerating much harder to avoid.
- Look for ice on trees and side-view mirrors as stark clues of conditions, as well as sudden loss of water spray from the vehicle being followed. Driving in these conditions requires confidence and skill.