Coaching Corner

Ready for More Winter Driving?

By Mike Hitchcock, ICSA Safety Consultant

Mike Hitchcock

Punxsutawney Phil Says Winter’s Not Over!

ICSA safety consultants have been seeing far too many weather-related crashes this year! However, just because it’s late February doesn’t mean the danger is over. After all, Punxsutawney Phil, the ever-reliable groundhog, predicted just a few days ago that we’re in for another six weeks of winter!

In fact, snow, ice, wind, rain and other inclement weather conditions don’t cause crashes. Rather, it’s drivers not planning for these conditions and not adapting their driving habits that leads to crashes. We’ve seen dozens of crashes already this year because drivers were simply driving too fast for road conditions and not paying attention.

If you are in your first or second year driving in winter conditions, you would do well to review the free winter weather training courses available to you at no cost on the FirstGear on our webpage.

Driving in bad weather requires all your skills and attention. Begin by eliminating unnecessary distractions. You need to be up on the wheel and completely focused on the job at hand. Below are three more tips for driving in bad weather.

It’s ok to chain up BEFORE being required to do so!

  • There are many times when you don’t need to use all your chains but adding just a couple can make a big difference in traction.
  • The time to chain up is right after you find yourself wondering if you should!
  • Experience is what makes a professional driver - along with a habit of making smart decisions. Driving in bad weather is what truckers do. Learning how to do it safely – the right way – takes time but learn to do it.
  • For snow, set a progressive goal for yourself. Learn how to drive in one inch of snow this year. How do you do that? When you find yourself in those conditions seek out another professional driver and ask them to show you how. The good ones will be glad too.
  • DRIVE SLOWLY and never get overconfident. The difference between arriving safely and ending up in the ditch can be the difference of one mile per hour.
  • One tip I’ve learned over the years is whenever you start to wonder if conditions are bad enough, get off the road.

Keep your brakes adjusted evenly. This will prevent one set of tires from locking up on you before another. Know how to adjust automatic slack adjusters. There are many myths about backing up to adjust them. It is not very effective. The best practice is to simply depress the brake pedal all the way to the floor and hold it there for 3 seconds. Do this a couple times a day and your brakes will stay evenly adjusted. This should also be the last thing you do as you stop for an inspection.

Keep your 5th wheel well-greased. In icy conditions, you won’t be able to turn if your 5th wheel is dry.

Find more Winter Driving Information in the Resources section of our website.

FMCSA Updates Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Notifications

13 March 2023

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has just updated the notifications sent to carriers when there is a change in the information received by the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse about truck drivers employed by carriers.

DOT May Mandate Side Underride Guards on Trailers

13 March 2023

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently sent an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on side underride guards to the White House Office of Management and Budget. OMB must approve it before the ANPRM is published in the Federal Register and available for public comment.

FMCSA Proposes New Broker and Freight Forwarder Financial Rules

13 March 2023

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to change the financial responsibility requirements of brokers and freight forwarders. The changes are intended to benefit motor carriers.