Although autumn seems to have just begun, the dreaded “w word” is around the corner – winter. There is more to winter driving than preparing the vehicle and having all of the much-needed equipment in the vehicle. There’s also the very important mental preparation for winter driving. It almost seems as if we need to be psyching ourselves up to drive in the winter. With that being said, let’s ensure we’re mentally prepared to drive safely in winter weather.
The first part of preparing ourselves for winter driving is realizing no matter what you do, the ugly weather will be upon us in no time and can last months. That’s okay, because we can deal with it. Slow and steady as the saying goes. Recognizing that even the slightest amount of snow on the road can seriously affect the traction of the mighty tractor trailer. This lessened traction affects your acceleration, braking and steering but why wait until you’re out there before you remind yourself how to safely drive in those conditions. Remembering that ahead of time can help you become mentally prepared to handle the worst of the winter weather.
Taking the acceleration as slow as needed is a big part of maneuvering on snowy roads. Knowing the roads provide less friction, especially when a sudden burst of power comes from the wheels, should always be on our mind. This will usually mean a larger gap in traffic before making a turn. In this case, it’s not just about having more time for you the driver to get through the gap in traffic. It’s also about providing oncoming traffic with enough time to adjust their speed to give you more space and time to complete the turn.
Speaking of braking, as a mentally prepared driver for winter conditions, giving yourself enough time to stop is critical to keep you moving along smoothly. Looking well ahead of the traffic to anticipate the actions of the vehicles ahead of you can help to make the braking easier and smoother. Why wait until the driver directly in front of you begins to slow down before you do? Also, by slowing sooner, your brake lights are on sooner and you’ll be helping the drivers behind you to slow down smoothly, thus helping to avoid any potential rear end collisions, which seem to be heightened in winter conditions. Also, it’s important to make adjustments at traffic lights so you don’t attempt to stop when the light changes to yellow if you have to apply the brakes hard.
Performing the daily inspection and replacing or fixing anything that needs the attention is highly important to stay safe on the roads in winter weather. Ensuring the vehicle has the proper chains for those conditions is, in many areas of the country, required by law. It also makes good driving sense to ensure the truck make it up those steep hills, so ensure the chains are on before attempting to drive in these conditions.
Probably the best mental preparation each driver can do it patience. Despite all that they can to arrive on time, there are other drivers they will have to deal with who may not be prepared for winter driving. Take a deep breath and move on. Avoid staying too close to other vehicles when the driver appears to be hesitant about their driving choices. A lot of brake lights from that driver may indicate they may make a sudden move, either braking or switching lanes, which may affect you. Why risk having them slam on their brakes or risking a slide into your vehicle if you can do something proactive about it.
Head over to our Winter Driving section of our website for more tips on seasonal driving.
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