Pub. 3 2023 Issue 1

Preparing your Truck for Winter Driving

This story appears in the
Kentucky Trucker Pub 3 2023 Issue 1

The Winter driving season is upon us. Trucking can be a pretty straightforward occupation, provided you enjoy what you are doing, know what you are doing and are prepared to do it. However, when road conditions become icy, wet, snowy or just basically out of your control, you may want to ensure you are ready for your next trip when you hit the winter highway.

It’s always smart to prepare long before you are tasked to haul a load, even if it’s a load you take on a regular basis. Part of preparing is making sure you have everything you need prior to leaving port, especially during the winter months. An emergency kit is always a good idea, but make sure to check its contents often so you are certain of what’s inside.
A good truck driver’s emergency kit contains the following:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Plenty of water
  • Flashlights
  • Snow chains
  • Matches
  • Extra blankets, space blankets
  • Warm clothing
  • Road flares
  • Sleeping bag(s)
  • Telephone chargers
  • Battery-powered radio

Rotate these items as they are used to ensure everything is up-to-date when (if) needed.

The next task before you leave for your winter trip is to inspect your vehicle. Top off fluids, clean mirrors and windows, and make sure your defroster and heater work properly. And check your tires. This is vital. Check the condition and tread depth of all tires, including spares kept on your vehicle. And because of winter conditions, it’s possible you may have to chain your tires sometime during trips. You may want to practice chaining up prior to leaving for a run. This can save you time, and – if you happen to have a need on the road to chain up – you will be ready.

Another good tip for winter driving is to pack large bags of sand and/or cat litter and road salt. These can be used if
you get hung up on an icy patch and need to gain traction under the tires.

Don’t forget the extra washer fluid. It’s amazing how fast a driver can drain a washer fluid tank during and after a storm.
If you think one gallon of fluid will be enough, bring two. Or even three.

Stay ahead of the weather whenever possible by checking every available source. These could include weather apps on your phone, radio and television stations, or you could even call those on the other end of your destination to have them check how directly they are being hit at the approximate time you arrive to deliver or retrieve their product.

Safety always comes first. While on the road, pay attention. Keep your lights clear of dirty snow and slush. Do not drive distracted. Don’t follow too closely to those ahead of you. Stay hydrated, and fuel yourself just as you fuel your truck. Remember what you were taught when you learned how to drive these “big rigs.” Your instructors knew their stuff when they said you could never be too careful. 

Enjoy the open road, but remember you must respect it to be a part of it. Driving can be fun; after all, seeing the country is why a lot of people become truckers in the first place. Being prepared during the cold weather months can help you to see the country under a very different landscape than in spring, summer or fall.