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Winter Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

We have the most important winter driving tips for truck drivers, which includes how to deal with skidding on icy roads.


ABCO Transportation
September 9, 2020
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If you are considering becoming a truck driver, there is plenty that you are going to need to learn before you actually get started. Winter driving tips are essential to your success. One of the main issues is always going to be safety and as long as you are doing everything you can to keep yourself as safe as possible you should find that you are approaching the work in a much more sensible and engaged manner. In this article, we are going to look through some useful winter driving tips for truck drivers. These tips should help you to do that.

The truth is that driving a truck requires close attention to safety at all times and there is a learning curve like any other part of the job. We have the most important winter driving tips for truck drivers, which include slowing down, increasing the distance to the vehicle in front of you and how to deal with skidding on icy roads. You should always:

  • Keep your speed under control.
  • Keep plenty of space between vehicles.
  • Pay attention, don’t be distracted.
  • Plan well, get rest and eat well.
  • Brake early, gently and often.
  • Accelerate slowly and easily.
  • Maneuver carefully and slowly.
  • Inspect the vehicle before every trip.
  • Load and unload carefully.

CDL Winter Driving Tips


No matter what kind of truck you drive, you need to take extra precaution in winter. If you are learning to drive a truck with a CDL license, then you will be given plenty of the most important skills that you will need to drive trucks all over the country. However, here as with any other kind of truck driving, you are still going to need to know how to drive safely in winter, and the same winter driving tips for truck drivers will still apply.

Commercial CDL drivers should pay attention and ensure that they:

  • Avoid driving if possible.
  • Know their vehicle inside and out as well as possible.
  • Slow down.
  • Increase the distance between them and the vehicle in front.
  • Pay close attention.
  • Learn how to deal with skidding.

Whatever your professional cargo might be, if you are driving under a CDL you will need to bear these points in mind, many of which we are going to continue to look at in the following paragraphs in more detail.

Winter Driving In Commercial Vehicles


In order to appreciate what you need to do differently when you are driving a truck in winter, it’s good to bear in mind what is so different about the conditions in the first place. Reminding yourself of this information can help to cement in your mind why it’s so important, while also ensuring that you can understand better what you should expect. 

When you are driving a commercial vehicle in the winter months, you need to stay safe in specific ways which you don’t need to think about at other times of the year. Winter driving in commercial vehicles means that you can expect:

  • Slippery roads
  • Icy conditions and snowy surfaces
  • Poor visibility
  • Slower braking time
  • Poor light and shorter days
  • Engine problems caused by the cold
  • Cargo issues
  • Exhaust malfunctioning

There are many other things that might crop up as well, but these are all important and things you need to make sure you are aware of. Whenever you are driving a truck in winter weather, you can expect these kinds of changes and you are going to have to make sure that you are doing anything you can to master them and remain on top of them. We will look at many of the ways you can do that below.

Truck Driving In Snow

As we have seen, there are many changes in the conditions that you can expect in the winter months when you are driving a truck and it can be a challenge to stay safe at all times. Let’s now look at the specific instance of truck driving in snow. This is something that is likely going to crop up at some point or another for most truck drivers, and when it does you will need to know what you can do about it in order to ensure you are driving safely while doing so. Let’s look at some of the major tips around truck driving in snow in the winter months.

You have to remember when you are driving a truck in snow that you will take around 10 times as long to stop the vehicle completely compared to normal conditions. That means you have to pay enough attention to counteract that and this is the most important thing of all. You have to brake as early as you can, but also you should be going much slower than usual to help facilitate that stop as best as possible.

On top of driving slower and braking earlier, when you are driving a truck in snow you should also:

  • Pack cargo carefully. If you are driving a rear-wheel truck, for instance, then you should put more weight on the back half of the truck, to put weight on the axle that generates power. This ensures your truck’s tires stick to the road conditions better.
  • Practice driving your truck in the snow in an empty parking lot or similarly safe, non-public location, if possible.
  • Make sure you are using winter tires.

If your truck starts to spin out or something else happens while you are driving in the snow, remember to:

  • Stay calm
  • Slow down quickly but easily
  • Accelerate slowly
  • Leave extra room for braking
  • Brake slowly
  • Steer out of the way of any oncoming trouble

As long as you remember these simple tips, you will be maximizing your safety when driving a truck in the snow. This is one of the main points to remember when you are working with these poor weather conditions.

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Truck Driving Safety Topics

Because it is so different to drive a truck compared to many other vehicle types, there are numerous things that you really need to be aware of if you hope to keep yourself safe during the winter months and poor weather conditions. The winter driving tips for truck drivers that we are laying out in this article are hugely important, as are a number of the truck driving safety topics that you will specifically need to educate yourself on - and which your employer should help you understand more fully as well.

So what are some of the truck driving safety topics that you need to be aware of in particular? Here are some of the most important to help keep you safe and prepared during winter driving.

Inspecting The Truck

Before you set out on every trip, you need to make sure that you are inspecting the truck for any likely issues that could cause problems in the snow, ice or on slippery roads and otherwise poor conditions in winter. Safety tips always start with your pre-trip inspection. This can help to prevent not only accidents but also mechanical breakdowns. You need to make sure that your truck is in fully working order and also that it is in compliance with regulations.

What Speed To Drive?

Knowing what speed to drive at is important in all conditions, not just when it is winter. Of course, it is essential that you drive under the speed limit at all times, no matter what. That helps to keep the vehicle under control even when the conditions are poor and means that you are minimizing the chance of causing yourself or anyone else any injuries. Always drive at a lower average speed, so if you need to suddenly brake, you can do so without causing trouble.

Following Regulations

As well as the regulations and rules within your company and the laws of the land, there are federal and state regulations that you need to be aware of as well, and following these will generally mean that you are driving much more safely in winter. As well as keeping you safe, this also helps to avoid any issues with the law, which is absolutely something you don’t want happening while you are simply trying to work.

Signs Of Fatigue

The trouble with fatigue is that you don’t always know it until it is too late. For that reason, it’s important to make sure that you are aware of the early signs of fatigue, so that you know when to pull over and stop driving. This is especially important in winter when the conditions are icy and wet, as any brief moment of not paying attention could be even more lethal than at other times of year. Be alert at all times and if you are feeling incapable of that, then do not drive but pull over safely somewhere you can if possible. Pull over far enough off the road because it’s hard for drivers to see parked vehicles during winter storms. 

Planning Ahead

You should always make sure to plan ahead well before a trip. There are many benefits to doing this. One main one is that it means you are always going to be well rested before you drive. If you have not managed to get the kind of sleep that you need to, then you are going to find it harder to react in good time and sensibly to the conditions of the winter road. Plan ahead, make sure you are truly ready to drive and it will make all the difference in the world to how safely you are driving in winter.

Maintaining Your Vehicle

Although this is vital at all times of year, if you are driving a truck in winter, you must make sure that you are maintaining your vehicle well. Any small problems or issues could become much bigger ones if you are not careful, so be sure to carry out those checks that we mentioned earlier and always have any problems fixed as soon as possible after you notice them. This keeps you and everyone else safe.

Are Semi Trucks Good In Snow?


It is common for people to drive semi trucks for their work. If you drive one, you are no doubt going to be wondering whether it is a sensible and safe vehicle to drive in the snow. As it happens, it can be safe enough as long as you know how to handle it properly, and that is something that can be much easier said than done. But overall, semi trucks are perfectly capable of driving in the snow if you know what you are doing.

When you are driving a semi truck in the snow, you should bear in mind some important points, such as:

  • If you get stuck in snow, don’t spin the wheels, but instead move them from side to side. This motion moves the snow away and packs it down under the wheels, helping to lift them out bit by bit.
  • To get out of a troublesome patch of snow, accelerate gently and slowly until you ease out of it.
  • Gear down when you are trying to come to a halt.
  • Rapid and light pumping of the brake pedal is best when you are trying to slow down quickly on snow and black ice.
  • If you find yourself driving through a snowstorm, pull over regularly to wipe down the windscreen and mirrors in order to keep the visibility high.
  • Be aware that snow may have landed on your truck, making its height bigger - and stopping you being able to pass under low bridges.

As long as you consider these points when you are driving, you should be able to drive a semi truck without too much problem in the snow. Just take care at all times and be aware of your surroundings as usual.

Daily Safety Messages For Truck Drivers


If you are looking for the most important winter driving tips for truckers, then the following daily safety messages could be all you need to really focus on. As long as you drill down on these points, you should remain safe and well while driving your truck in the winter months.

  • Drive defensively. This means that you are always on the lookout for what might go wrong, so that you are more prepared to deal with it when it occurs.
    • That includes: looking ahead of you more than normal; checking mirrors regularly; controlling speed; being careful about changes in bad weather; and other such tactics.
  • You should be using three points of your body at all times when you are driving, to ensure that you are fully engaged with the act itself. That means that at any one time you are using your two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, at the very least. If you are not, you will have more trouble actually keeping control of the vehicle.
  • Don’t get distracted. Distracted driving is dangerous all year round, but especially so when you are looking in the winter months, so make sure that you avoid getting distracted at all if you can help it.
    • That means keeping your mobile phone stowed away and not looking at it; avoiding loud music; and not having anything distracting hanging from the windscreen or ceiling.
  • Ensure school and work zone safety by following all the relevant signposts and ensuring that you do not ignore any of them.
  • Be aware of and follow local and federal road laws at all times - including keeping your speed within the limit.
  • Keep your headlights clear at all times to make the most of your lights during times of poor visibility in the winter months.
  • Make sure you are loading and unloading the vehicle in the proper way, to avoid any potential collisions or accidents.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Monitor the weather closely, and be prepared if it seems about to change.
  • Get plenty of rest and eat well.

Winter Driving Tips For Truck Drivers are Important

As you can see, there are plenty of things that you need to be aware of when you are trying to drive your truck safely in the snow, ice and other winter conditions. You want to make sure you have healthy tips for truck drivers during the cold winter months too.

As long as you have carefully made sure of all of that, you will find yourself to be a much safer winter truck driver. These winter driving tips for truck drivers are hugely important in that way. That means that you won’t come into any trouble, you won’t be in harm - and nor will anybody else on the roads. 

Fill Out a Truck Driving Application

You should come away feeling that you have a much better idea of how to be safe driving a truck in winter.

If you are considering getting a job as a truck driver, remember that you can always seek out a job with us. You never know: It could be exactly the career change that you have been looking for.

Working with a recruiter is a great way to apply for a trucking job. View hundreds of truck driver vacancies, including truck driving jobs in Miami, and apply for truck driving jobs with ABCO today by filling out our trucking job application today! Contact us today at 866-980-2710!

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