January 14, 2023

8 Winter Driving Tips for Commercial and Personal Vehicle Drivers

Drivers on Snowy Freeway

Driving safely in winter weather can be challenging for even the most experienced driver.

Whether your firm employs commercial vehicle drivers or most of the driving at your firm involves employees driving personal passenger vehicles, the following tips selected from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website will help drivers avoid dangerous situations, especially in winter. These tips apply to commercial and private passenger vehicle drivers alike. All drivers should also keep in mind that their safety depends on how safely others drive, especially commercial vehicle operators. So, drive defensively.

TIP #1: Always Wear Your Safety Belt

Whether driving short distances or long trips, you — and your passengers — should always wear a safety belt. In case of a sudden stop or crash, a safety belt will keep you secured to the seat, helping prevent injury or death that may occur from being thrown from seat into the steering wheel, dash, or windshield.

TIP #2: Reduce Your Driving Speed in Adverse Road and/or Weather Conditions

Adjust your speed to safely match weather conditions, road conditions, visibility, and traffic. Excessive driving speed is a major cause of fatal crashes, with higher speeds causing more severe crashes. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) recently reported that 25 percent of speeding-related large-truck fatalities occurred during adverse weather conditions.

TIP #3: Enter a Curve Slowly

Speed limits posted on curve warning signs are intended for passenger vehicles, not large trucks. Large trucks should reduce their speed even further. Studies have shown that large trucks entering a curve, even at the posted speed limit, have lost control and rolled over due to their high center of gravity. 40 percent of speeding-related fatalities occur on curves.

TIP #4: Reduce Your Speed Before Entering an Exit/Entrance Ramp

Approach an exit/entrance ramp at a safe speed. Truck rollovers are more likely to occur on exit/entrance ramps when the driver misjudges the sharpness of the ramp curve and enters the curve at an excessive speed.

The posted speed limit on an exit/entrance ramp generally shows the safe speed for a passenger vehicle; the safe speed for a large truck is usually significantly lower than the posted speed.

Even though ramps and interchanges make up less than 5 percent of all highway miles, 20 to 30 percent of all large-truck crashes occur on or near ramps.

Tip #5: Do Not Suddenly Change Your Direction of Travel

If you miss a turn or an exit, pass the turn and find a safe way to change direction. Do not take shortcuts. Trying to suddenly correct a missed turn or exit may result in an illegal or unsafe maneuver which may threaten your safety and the safety of the vehicles around you.

TIP #6: Signal Your Intentions

Use turn signals well in advance to indicate your intent to change lanes, then next visually scan for adjacent traffic and road hazards, and then execute a safe lane change. A recent study reported that there are approximately 630,000 lane-change crashes annually (including both large trucks and passenger vehicles).

Tip #7: Maintain a Safe Following Distance

Large trucks need additional space between vehicles to allow for safe braking and unexpected actions. In crashes, large trucks most often hit the vehicle in front of them.

If you are driving a truck less than 40 mph, you should leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. For a typical tractor-trailer, this results in 4 seconds between you and the leading vehicle. For speeds over 40 mph, you should leave one additional second.

If you’re driving a car, one strategy is to follow the 2 second rule, which is half the distance commercial trucks use. As a practical matter, if you’re driving a car at 55mph, you could reach a full stop in about 200 feet, potentially less. That equates to the length of about 14 sedans or a dozen full-sized SUVs. When driving in heavy traffic or metropolitan areas, your vehicle should maintain at least one full car’s distance from the vehicle in front of it.

TIP #8: Be Aware of Your “No-Zone”

As a commercial truck driver, be vigilant in watching for vehicles in the “No-Zone.” Drivers around you may not be aware of the size of your truck’s blind spots, some of which can be large enough that a passenger vehicle can virtually disappear from your view! Passenger vehicle drivers should heed this caution and not disappear into the “no-zone.” One-third of all crashes between large trucks and cars takes place in the “No-Zone.”

(We’ll provide more tips in a future issue.)

Source: CMV Driving Tips – Unfamiliar Roadways, https://tinyurl.com/2nqnf5uc

Article Courtesy of SmartsPublishing.com