Trucking in the Snow - How to Stay Safe on the Roads This Winter
We’re lucky not to get too much snow in the UK. But all it takes is a few centimetres on the ground before we know to expect road disruptions. We’ve rounded up some reminders of how to stay safe when a cold snap hits.
Don’t make a brake for it
Experienced drivers will know that it’s important to be gentle when it comes to braking on a slippery surface. All braking must be gradual and over much longer distances. It’s also best to avoid using the foot brake as it can cause the truck to skid out of its position and jackknife. This compilation (by icyroadsafety.com) opens with a chilling example:
Go slow and steady
When the frost sets, even the legal speed limit can be dangerous. In general, the recommended speed on non-gritted roads is 25mph in snowy conditions, especially if operating a loaded trailer. Remember that trying to beat weather delays is not worth risking your life! Watch as this lorry driver narrowly misses a motorist and avoids disaster:
Good tyres are always a must but in the winter it’s especially important to get high quality lug tyres optimised for harsh weather conditions. Of course, ensuring the right tyre pressure is also essential for good traction and road safety. Also remember to keep your fuel tanks filled to help with tyre traction. Don’t forget avoid breakdowns in the winter freeze. No one likes to get stuck in a rut.
Keep your distance
In icy circumstances, it’s best to leave extra room between your lorry and other vehicles. It’s also never a good idea to overtake a snow plough or vehicle spreading salt, unless you are sure the road is clear and the conditions allow it to be done safely. Otherwise you might be dealing with a close call like this one:
It’s good to be prepared with a winter survival kit in your lorry throughout the season. A small shovel and a torch is a nice start. It also pays to keep a blanket and even extra warm clothes in case of finding yourself stranded for a longer period of time. There’s not much worse than getting stuck on a snowy motorway unprepared.
Take it easy
In the road freight business, the many perils of driving a lorry on icy roads are well-documented. It’s rare for fully non-drivable conditions to hit the UK but it pays to be cautious. Remember, black ice is often invisible to the naked eye. Even when it’s not snowing, low temperatures are a sign of slippery surfaces. Know what your lorry can handle and if the risk seems too big, don’t take it.