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Extreme Driving Conditions: Snow and Ice

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Professional truck drivers encounter all types of driving situations every day. They are the captain of their ship and control their vehicle. However, they cannot control the amount of traffic or the weather. 

When truck drivers encounter extreme driving conditions like snow and ice, it creates reduced traction and visibility. Once tires contact the road surface, they create friction or traction. When the tire loses contact with the road surface, its gripping power is reduced, and that can affect traction, steering, and braking ability. Visibility refers to your ability to distinguish objects on the roadway and the ability of others to see your vehicle.

Tips for Driving on Ice:

  • Understand the signs of black ice. Some signs can include a sudden drop in temperature and/or water already on the roadway. Look for a sheen or shine on the roadway. Looking for headlight glare coming off the roadway can help detect the ice.
  • Leave ample room between your tractor and the vehicle in front of you when braking and stopping on ice.
  • Understand the techniques to prevent a loss of control or jackknife situation. Listen to the road. If conditions deteriorate, it may be necessary to find a place to park.
  • Remember, ice forms on bridges first.
  • Be sure all tractor and trailer lights are on for visibility.
  • Communicate the conditions with your company.

Tips for Driving in Snow

  • Limited traction means starting out should be smooth and slow. If you feel the wheels start to slide, stop and start over. Steering and braking should also be slow and smooth to avoid a potential jackknife.
  • Limited traction means stopping distance increases, so following distance should also increase.
  • The type of snow can affect driving. Light powdery snow does not present much of a problem, whereas heavy wet snow and packed snow can create uneven road surfaces and the potential for ice underneath.
  • If the wind blows while it’s snowing, it can create visibility issues. The blowing snow can obscure road signs, roadway markings, and snow plowing equipment. If a “whiteout” condition exists, you may want to park until conditions get better.
  • In winter months, carry a survival kit in the truck. It can include extra clothing, food, water, and emergency equipment.
  • Check the weather forecast when you stop for breaks.
  • Understand the techniques to prevent a loss of control or jackknife crash. Listen to the road.
  • Communicate the conditions with your company.
  • Be sure all tractor and trailer lights are on for visibility.

Reprinted with permission from Great West Casualty Company. This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds or other  parties, nor does it advise insureds or other parties on employment-related issues, therefore the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds or other parties. Legal advice should always be sought from legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.

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