SAFETY ON THE ROAD: WINTERTIME REMINDERS
Driving alertly, with anticipation and preparation, are essential safety characteristics. Winter conditions add extra layers of consideration regarding safety on our roads.
The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that almost 25% of weather-related accidents happen in wintertime due to snowy, slushy, icy pavement, or heavy winds. Regardless of what region we are driving in, even in the southern portion of the country, there are approximately 3 million miles of roadways potentially affected by wintertime conditions. Driving smartly and safely is always paramount, but especially during this time of the year. Knowing how to avoid these 6 winter driving hazards can bring the load – and our drivers – to each destination safely.
- Speed – Snow, sleet, ice, and slush reduce traction. Drivers should go only as fast as road conditions allow. Accelerate and brake slowly. Apply brakes earlier and slowly when approaching red lights and stop signs. Be cautious of sliding. Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Don’t use cruise control. Drive slower in windy conditions.
- Tailgating – Avoid following other vehicles too closely. Slippery road conditions require more stopping time. On snowy or icy roads, don’t follow in other drivers’ ruts; they may include hard-packed ice.
- Black ice – Icy roads look like wet roads, which makes them dangerous. Driving too fast on black ice could result in spinouts, or a jackknifed vehicle. If there is no road spray from vehicles in front of drivers or passing by on the opposite side of the road, it’s highly probable the road has black ice. Slow down.
- Bridges, on-ramps and off-ramps – Bridges and other elevated surfaces freeze faster than roadways. Highway on-ramps and off-ramps are often more slippery. Slow down or find an alternate route.
- Lack of preparation – Overconfidence is to be avoided. A good recommendation for drivers is to pack a safety kit that includes blankets, extra clothing, rain gear, nonperishable food, water and roadside flares or markers in case you are stranded in frigid weather. Windshield ice scrapers may be necessary. Always clean ice and snow off your mirrors, windows, and lights. Check tires for proper pressure and make sure trucks are serviced and safety systems operate properly.
- Other drivers – No matter how sound your safety plan is, all drivers should assume that other drivers won’t be as prepared. Expecting erratic driving behaviors from others on the road can prevent getting caught up in other motorists’ accidents.
Outside the Vehicle
After arriving safely at the destination, be aware of slippery conditions outside of vehicles, on sidewalks or parking lot surfaces. Wear proper footwear with appropriate treads during icy conditions. If outdoor surfaces are slippery, it is advisable to take short steps, at a slow pace.
Meeting on-time service expectations is a great goal. Delivering freight, while doing our part to assure that wintertime weather conditions cause as few accidents as possible, is key. Arriving safely and keeping others safe during this time of year is good for all!
Thank you to ECA Member, Pace USA, for donating core content for this blog post.