Weather-related vehicle accidents cause about 7,000 fatalities in the United States every year1. The weather can be unpredictable and, at times, can warrant emergency actions. However, there are a few precautions you can take to be more prepared for when the weather strikes. Conducting a thorough pre-trip inspection can ensure that you and your truck are ready to take the road. During your trip, severe weather can come without warning. It’s best, no matter the circumstances, to obey road signs and remain attentive. You want to give yourself enough time to react and have as much control over your vehicle. Even the most seasoned truck driver can find themselves in situations where the weather can present challenges. In the spring, probability for severe weather increases. Below are some conditions we may face this year and how to be prepared to drive through them.
Although rain can happen all year round, it’s prominent in the springtime. It may not seem like a major issue but wet pavement accounts for 60% of auto accident fatalities involving tractor-trailers2. When flooding becomes an issue, it’s important to avoid low-lying areas and low water crossings while decreasing speed. If your truck stalls in the water do not try to start the engine, call for assistance and let your manager know of the situation. If you think stalling may become an issue, you should park and wait until conditions clear. Once conditions are more favorable you can re-evaluate your truck’s condition and make sure breaks are dry and you are able to continue driving.
Similar to rain, high winds can occur in any season. It’s important to be prepared for high winds and know what challenges it may present. When wind is a concern, you should make sure that your load is balanced in your trailer. Wind speeds over 25 mph can make it difficult to steer and an uneven load can be more challenging. You should avoid driving empty trailers when wind speeds are exceeding 25mph. Increase your follow distance to be cautious of other vehicles on the road.
Late spring marks the beginning of hurricane season for North America. Coastal states will see the brunt of these storms however effects can be experienced from miles and even states away. During these storms, both flooding and high winds are an issue. If you have to drive, avoid driving through water and look for down wires. It’s important to be aware for possible debris caused by the high winds. If you are parking your truck, park on higher ground and away from any trees.
Spring also marks the beginning of tornado season that usually has the highest possibilities to form now through early summer. If you find yourself near a tornado, seek shelter but avoid overpasses and bridges. Do not try and outrun a tornado, instead, drive in a 90-degree angle away from it. Staying calm and focused will help to improve your awareness and ability to make the right decisions.
Severe weather can strike at any time. Being prepared, taking the right precautions, and knowing how to handle different weather scenarios can help you navigate through driving challenges.