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Safety Thursday: Winter Driving & Skid Control

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Winter Driving

Plan ahead:

Winter means wet, cold and in some places freezing weather. The most important practice to combat Mother Nature during the winter months is planning. Keep up to date with weather reports in your immediate area, if snow or ice is predicted, plan to leave earlier or arrive later. 

Always put safety first:

When traveling on icy roads, slow down, increase following distance, and avoid any changes in speed or direction. If chain laws are active, consider finding a safe place to park until restrictions are lifted and roads are cleared. 

  • Consider your load. If you are empty or hauling a light load (20,000 pounds or less) your stopping distance will increase and your stability will decrease: NHTSA
  • Be aware of fast-freezing road surfaces like bridges and overpasses: Icy Road Safety
  • Wait out the weather at a truck stop, parking lot or rest area. 
  • Be sure to inform the agent and customer when stuck in a weather delay.

Know your equipment:

There are many factors that affect a skid; including speed, road surface, tires, wind speed, weight and the load’s center of balance. 

Follow these links for more tips and information on driving during winter weather:

Follow this checklist to prepare for winter driving:

  1. Always perform a pre-trip inspection before leaving. 
  2. Check windshield wiper blades to ensure they work properly.
  3. Check tire pressure; under or over inflation can reduce the tires gripping action.
  4. Scrape ice and snow from every window, exterior mirrors and the hood of the truck. 
  5. Always use safety belts, both lap and shoulder straps.
  6. Always drive with your lights on, low beams are often more effective than high beams in heavy fog or snow.
  7. Keep the fuel tank at least half-full; the extra volume can reduce moisture problems with in a fuel system and adds extra weight to the vehicle making the truck less susceptible to high wind gusts. 
  8. Stop often in safe areas to make sure snow and ice does not accumulate on the tractor, trailer or exterior lights. 
  9. Drive slowly, remember posted speed limits identify the maximum speed allowed in ideal weather conditions. Law enforcement can write citations to drivers if weather conditions warrant a slower speed. 
  10. Never be a “sitting duck,” remember, Landstar does not allow parking on the side of any road or interstate unless it’s a true emergency.
  11. Be alert to other drivers, anticipate vehicles coming from side streets and increase following distances. 
  12. Don’t use a cellular phone or a hands free device to make a call when driving in ice or snow. Even with hands-free options, driving during inclement weather should be done with no distractions.  

Additional sources for winter driving safety:

Snow Removal Laws by state from, American Trucking Association

IcyRoadSafety.com: Icy Road Safety & Icy Road Driving

Winter Driving 101: Trucks & Winter Driving

Join the Landstar Safety Thursday Conference Call on the third Thursday of every month at 12 p.m. (noon) ET, dial 877-717-5921.