This was not a great weather week for trucking.
You probably noticed several cars or other
vehicles stuck because of this weather. Last
night, the main news story was about the driver on
I-69 who crashed between two semi trailers. The
driver, who was in a car, apparently was driving
in the left lane when he decided to quickly change
lanes to the far right lane. When he made the
quick change to the right lane, the truck ahead of
him made the change as well. The vehicles hit each
other and the car went flying across three lanes
into the southbound where it hit another car,
causing a fatality.
It seems as if the aggressive driving of the
person in the car was the cause of this accident.
This is a very unfortunate event and one that did
not need to happen. Driving in this weather
already makes for unpredictable conditions. When
you add unpredictable drivers, it becomes an
The best you can do is be prepared for all of
these situations. Keep a proper following distance
and be aware of conditions that may cause hazards.
Even if a road is plowed, there still may be
enough slush to cause some drivers to lose
control. The driver who I wrote about was driving
recklessly. It is difficult to avoid these drivers
but sometimes they may show signs like driving at
high speeds and following at close distances. It
is best to just avoid being close to these types
of drivers. Continue trying to be as safe as
possible under these weather conditions. Safety
begins with you buckling the seat belt before
taking off for any trip.
Driving without a trailer presents different
situations to deal with. For example, a truck’s
braking system is designed to stop while
pulling a loaded trailer. Therefore, without a
trailer, braking may cause the drive axle wheels
to bounce. This can reduce the gripping action on
the road. Follow these rules and you can help
avoid an accident when you are bobtailing:
Increase normal following distance by 50% and
increase it even more on wet roads. This relates
to the braking system mentioned above.
Scan the road ahead for potential traffic
Check your mirrors every four to five seconds,
and check for vehicles in your blind spots before
Slow down below the posted speed limit on exit
Watch for loose gravel when exiting the road
into a parking lot.
Realize that you need to drive in a different
manner when bobtailing. Remember that the faster
you travel, the longer it takes to stop. Whether
you are driving with or without a trailer, you
should always have the seatbelt buckled.
Think about the patterns and habits you have
when you are driving. Some of these may be driving
too much while you are tired or driving too fast
for the weather or road conditions. Most of you
have good driving patterns which help you avoid
accidents and tickets everyday. There is probably
one pattern or habit that can be improved. Think
about what that is and try to make an effort to
improve it. It could result in avoiding an
accident or getting stopped by the DOT. One such
pattern could be buckling the seatbelt before you
take off for any trip.
We have done several steel loads in the last
few weeks. For those of you who haul steel, it is
important that you have safety glasses, long pants
and a long sleeve shirt, hard-soled shoes, a
safety helmet, and cut-resistant gloves. Some of
the steel plants require that you have these
before entering their facility.
Winter/Cold Weather Driving:
It seems like the warmer weather we had in the
first part of January has gone away for a while.
With this cold weather, it is a good time to be
aware of the conditions that will affect you while
driving. Keep the following tips in mind while
driving during the cold of winter.
Plan your trip. Check the weather forecasts and
allow extra time if there will be adverse weather
on your trip.
Be prepared for the conditions. Check your
antifreeze and test the heater and defroster. Make
sure your tires are properly inflated. Keep extra
warm clothing and boots in your truck.
Use proper driving procedures. Increase the
following distance during snowy weather. Be
prepared for icy bridges during freezing weather,
and try to avoid aggressive braking.
In the winter the weather can be really
unpredictable. The best we can do is be prepared
and deal with it accordingly. One thing to do
before every trip is to always buckle the seat
Many motorists view lane changes from trucks as
one of the biggest safety issues. Mostly, a lane
change crash will occur when a truck changes into
the right lane and hits a car in the front or rear
side. Often this happens because the truck had to
make a quick lane change. The following guidelines
can help reduce the possibility of lane change
Clean and adjust mirrors before driving. This
is especially true now because of all the salt
that is on the roads.
Maintain a minimum six-second following
distance. Observe the posted speed limits and stay
in the right lane as much as possible to avoid
having to change lanes.
Signal lane changes well in advance. By
signaling lane changes about eight seconds in
advance you give other motorists proper reaction
time. Also, check your blind spots before changing
Sometimes a situation will require you to make
a lane change without much notice. The best we can
do is be prepared for that and be as professional
as we can. Always be prepared by wearing the