Effective Truck Driving Tips to Prevent Accident this Winter


Winter is officially here and because driving large commercial vehicles on winter creates special hazards, the safety of both drivers and the driving public are critical. Not to mention the fact that it can lead to harm of yourself and others, damage to your truck and other property, insurance and legal issues, and it can as well leave you off the road for an extended period of time.


Even for experienced truckers, driving a tractor-trailer through snow and ice requires great skill, experience, and concentration.


Here are some effective tips to prevent accident while trucking this winter.

During Pre-Trip Inspection


Let’s begin with a pre-trip inspection (before actually starting to drive). It is key for truckers to conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection to make sure their truck or commercial vehicles are safe. This is always important but more so during winter.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) require the following in terms of pre-trip inspections:

“No commercial motor vehicle shall be driven unless the driver is satisfied that the [brakes, steering, lighting, wheels and tires, mirrors and horn] are in good working order, nor shall any driver fail to use or make use of such parts and accessories when and as needed . . . ” (FMCSR §392.7(a))


“Before driving a motor vehicle, the driver shall . . . [b]e satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition . . .” (FMCSR §396.13(a))


It is recommended that all truck and/or any other commercial vehicle drivers pay special attention to the following systems and items below when conducting a pre-trip inspection during winter:

          • Truck coolant and anti-freeze levels

          • Defrosting and heating equipment

          • Windshield wipers and washer fluid levels

          • Use a gauge to check tires’ tread depths are sufficient in providing the traction

            necessary to ensure your vehicle can operate safely on snow and ice

            (Note: Front tires must have at least 4/32-inch tread depth in every major groove.

            On the other hand, all other tires must have at least 2/32-inch tread depth)

          • Ensure you’re carrying chains and extra cross-links that fit the drive tires in case

            you’ll find yourself in a situation in a situation where driving isn’t possible without

            the chains.

          • Lights and reflectors are very important as well, so make sure your truck’s windows

            and mirrors are clear.

          • For your own personal safety, ensure that all ice and snow are removed from

            handholds, steps, and deck plates.

          • Check your exhaust system connections and make sure they are all fitted and

            functioning properly. This helps prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning

            as cab ventilation is poorer during winter.

While on the Road

Driving a huge vehicle, such as a truck, is a difficult job. The weight and size of these types of vehicles and the possible damage they can cause require much more than training to be able to operate as compared to passenger cars.


When it comes to driving on snow and ice, adequate training plays a very important role. Firstly, all truckers must always drive in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FCMSA) safety mandate that requires truckers to exercise extreme caution when faced with hazardous conditions while driving:

“Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.” (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) 392.14)


The rule above specifically mentioned the winter conditions of ice, snow, and sleet. It also includes conditions that involve rain, fog and rain, fog, and high winds that can adversely affect visibility and traction.


Having said that, here are a couple of things truckers must keep in mind while on the road:

          • Constantly monitor and evaluate weather conditions where you are driving in

          • Be ready to slow down and drive at least below the speed limit

          • Increase following distance and always practice braking distance. Remember, the

           heavier the load, the greater the stopping distance must be. Experienced truckers

           know how to leave an extended buffer space to avoid a winter storm crash.

          • Do not stop on the side of the highway in low visibility situations, to avoid being

            mistaken for being on the road.

          • Make sure to clear snow and ice off your headlights and taillights every time you

            stop so you can see and be seen more clearly.

          • Stop driving if the weather is too dangerous to drive in


Always remember that safety should be your top priority and it is never acceptable to take unnecessary risks when your own or other people’s lives are involved.

“The insurer can take a look at the data to determine what actually occurred during an accident,” says Mitchell. “The outcome could be quite different, for example, in an accident where the truck driver is accused of speeding and the data indicates otherwise. On the other hand, if the data indicates the truck driver was indeed at fault, the insurer may decide to settle rather than incur the additional defense costs in going to court.”

Telematics, according to Mitchell, also motivates drivers to be more accountable for their driving behavior. “They are cognizant that management is monitoring their driving habits.”


Another benefit of employing telematics systems is that when a driver is involved in an accident, a message is automatically sent to the insurer, enabling a claims rep to be discharged to the scene as soon as possible to talk to witnesses.


“The more time that transpires after an accident, the more difficult it is to find witnesses,” notes Mitchell. “If you can get to the accident scene quickly, you’re better able to get an accounting from witnesses about what occurred.”


Some insurers provide cameras and other proprietary telematics devices to insureds while others have partnerships with telematics companies to offer discounts on systems. Yet just having a system in place is not enough.


“You need to use and leverage the data correctly to monitor and correct driver behavior,” says Mitchell. “Transportation companies should view this as a long-term investment in safety which in turn will result in tangible operational benefits.”


As always, our team at DOK Insurance Agency is here to help where we can. For more information or questions about specific insurance policy, please email info@dokagency.com or give us a call at (425) 242-5252.


1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201
Renton, WA 98055

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