Donít Blame Truck Accidents on Bad Weather
Unfortunately, winter is not a wonderland when it comes to long distance truck driving.
“Truck accidents may be caused by failing to take the appropriate steps to prepare the truck for cold weather,” says Jim Ronca, Pennsylvania truck accident attorney.
Consider the truck driver who drives from 80 degrees to 10 below. His truck and his mindset have to be properly prepared. Did he use antifreeze? Are his wipers and washers prepared for the ice and frost? Is his defroster working? If not, he could have engine problems and he could have visibility problems.
How does a driver with a route from Florida to Minnesota prepare for the journey during the winter months?
Jim Ronca offers some powerful but often overlooked common sense tips:
--Think like a Boy Scout and be prepared. Don’t leave anything to chance. Have your vehicle inspected prior to hitting the road. Your tools of the trade should include an ice scraper; windshield washer fluid; shovel; jumper cables; tow and tire chains; a big bag of salt; tool kit; and survival kit filled with a working flashlight and extra batteries, compass, first aid kit, blanket, and nonperishable high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts and dried fruit.
--Driving in the snow requires its own set of skills that are usually forgotten from one winter to the next. Before getting on the road prepare your truck by checking the battery, checking the tires for air, wear and tear, and tread depth. And last but not least – check antifreeze levels.
--When driving in the snow, keep the truck completely free of snow, not just the windshield. It's crucial for visibility, and for the safety of other drivers. Bits of snow and ice detaching from vehicles are dangerous to drivers behind you.
--Slow down when driving in winter conditions. Speed limits are meant for perfect weather conditions. Take into consideration that bad weather will slow you down and cause for this concern should be considered when scheduling drive time destinations.
--Big rigs should keep their distance from the vehicle ahead. It can take a truck anywhere from four to 10 times longer to stop in ice and snow. Slow down when you approach a bridge, since it is likely to be icy even if there is no ice on the pavement. Roads retain some heat because they are over the ground.
--Truck drivers with less experience or who may need a refresher should focus on winter weather collision prevention topics such as pre-trip inspections, maneuvering through skids, handling a jackknife, turns and curves, applying brakes on ice, loading freight correctly, and managing urban and highway obstacles. Because windows are rolled up and vents are often closed in the winter, ventilation is poor. Exhaust system leaks can be deadly.
--Big rig drivers should be well informed and confident about what to do when bad weather strikes and how to safely handle a variety of potentially deadly conditions such as driving in the snow, ice, rain, fog, and heavy winds.
--Conversely, when big rig drivers drive across the desert and the parched parts of the United States on days when frying an egg on the interstate surface seems possible – they should be equally prepared with coolant to keep the motor from overheating. Pay attention to engine oil and coolant levels, and belts and hoses. Watch for bleeding tar on the pavement. Bleeding tar spots can be very slippery so drive at a slower speed to prevent overheating, tire failure, engine failure and fire.
--Most people including truck drivers are less alert at night. Night driving reduces the sharpness of your vision. You will not be able to see hazards as well in the night as during the day. When traveling dark sections of roadway you are totally dependent on your headlights so keep them clean and free from dirt, mud, or snow. Glare from the bright lights of approaching vehicles can blind you. Being blinded for even a few seconds can lead to an accident. Don't look directly at the bright lights. Look to the right side of the roadway.