MI Roads: Winter Season

Oh, Michigan. The Mitten State with only two seasons: Winter and Construction. Last month we gave you tips for driving safely through road construction. Now that we’re at the end of construction season and quickly approaching winter here in Michigan, it’s time to go over some tips for safe winter driving.

Slow, Steady, Safe. — Most accidents in winter are a result of driving too fast. Typically, you want to always obey the speed limit, and you never want to drive over it, but during winter it’s best to go slow. Snow covered, icy roads are extremely hazardous conditions. You should take as much time as you need to arrive at your destination. Do NOT rush it, speed kills. We know you have a deadline, but your’s and other drivers’ safety always comes first.

Keep a safe distance. — You should always leave plenty of space between you and other drivers on the road. This goes double for winter driving. If you can see the tail lights of the car in front of you during heavy snow, you are too close to them. Keep a safe driving distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you, especially when there is low visibility. If the vehicle in front of you makes a mistake, you will too. Vehicles can leave the road during low visibility, or white out, situations and you could end up following them right off the road.    

Use your common sense and good judgement. — If the weather gets so bad that you need to get off the road: get off the road! Find a place to exit safely and wait until the weather clears or conditions become safe. You should NOT pull over onto the shoulder of a road, especially when visibility is low. Other vehicles might make the mistake of thinking you are on the road and, as a result, may hit the back of your truck.

Be smart about braking. Some truck drivers like to make use of the jake brake in less-than-stellar weather conditions. The jake brake, however, is not designed for use on ice or other slippery conditions. When driving on icy roads, do not use your jake brake, and try to avoid overusing the foot brake. Unless your entire unit is perfectly straight on slick roads the trailer can slide and you’ll be likely to spin out.  

Finally:

Keep everything clean so that you can be seen! Always clear off snow, ice, and debris from your tractor and trailer lights before you get on the road. LEDs accumulate a lot of snow and dirt during bad weather. Keeping your lights clean is crucial to your safety and the safety of others, especially when there is low visibility. 

Bad winter weather conditions are hazardous to all drivers, but especially to freight truckers. Remember to drive slowly, stay back, use your common sense, brake carefully, and keep your lights clean this winter.

Drive safe out there, and have a wonderful holiday season!

— Atran Freight