Proven Winter Driving Safety Tips for Challenging Conditions

January 15, 2024
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When snow and ice come, professional drivers can’t just take the day off to avoid challenging road conditions. The job they’ve been assigned needs to get done. But this can come with risk. 

The most recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration found there are about 6,000,000 car accidents annually. Of that number, over 1.2 million annual motor vehicle accidents are caused by hazardous weather conditions. That’s approximately 21% of collisions being the effect of a variety of harsh atmospheric circumstances like:

  • Snow.
  • Rain.
  • Fog.
  • Crosswinds.
  • Sleet. 

To ensure every driver is equipped with the knowledge and instruction necessary to drive safely, it’s important to provide your team with training on winter driving, distracted driving, defensive driving in bad weather and more.

Winter Driving Safety Best Practices

Most people learn the basics of safe driving as they get their driver’s license, but don’t continue to hone those skills until they’re put in an emergency and forget everything they’ve been taught. This can be the danger of not relearning or retraining the base-level information regularly. 

Let’s look at some of the important driving best practices for difficult weather conditions.

Drive Slowly and Give Other Cars Space

Even if you’re comfortable with driving in the snow, rain or fog, it’s best to slow down below the speed limit and drive with extreme caution. In snow and sleet specifically, it can be extremely difficult to slow down on slick or snow-covered surfaces. 

On top of driving at a slow, steady pace, it’s best to put plenty of space between you and the car in front of you so there’s room to stop without slamming on your brakes. This includes snow plows, too. Getting too close to trucks can put your visibility and driving conditions at risk. They tend to make frequent stops, wide turns, overlap lanes and exit the road frequently, so it’s important to be diligent and pass with caution. 

Check Your Tires and Battery

When the temperatures drop, so does tire inflation pressure. Check your tires before leaving to make sure they have enough air. You can find the recommended inflation pressure in your owner’s manual and on the label located on the driver’s side door frame. 

If you don’t check your tires, you may end up getting stuck in the snow and unable to find a gas station or air pump. Even outside of hazardous conditions, it’s beneficial to inspect your tires at least once a month, especially as professional drivers spend hours on the road. As you check out your tires, look for:

  • A tire tread of 2/32 of an inch or less.
  • Cuts, punctures, bulges, scrapes, cracks or bumps on the sidewall.
  • Your spare tire’s condition.

Your tires aren’t the only part of your truck that may be negatively impacted by the cold. The battery power tends to drop in the winter weather due to gasoline and diesel engines requiring more power to start. 

Equip Your Truck

If leaving for a job during icy or snowy weather, always ensure your vehicle has the necessary replacements and parts in case of a worst-case scenario. Fill up your tank completely because stopping once you’re on the road may be difficult in bad weather or you may be stuck in slow-moving traffic. 

It’s also critical to have backup windshield wipers or to fully replace your current ones if they’re old or not working properly. Add wiper fluid that’s rated for -30 degrees to assist with your glass freezing over and blocking your line of sight. Remove dirt, ice and snow from any sensors to allow your truck to use assistive driving features, if applicable to your type of vehicle. This also helps make driving conditions safer for others so no chunks of ice fall off your vehicle and into the road. 

If you do end up stranded, it’s important to have helpful items stored in your truck to use. Equip your vehicle with a:

  • Flashlight.
  • Spare tire.
  • Car jack.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Abrasive materials.
  • Shovel.
  • Snow brush and ice scraper.
  • Warning devices.
  • Blankets. 
  • Tire chains.

Inspect Your Brakes and Other Safety Features

Depending on the type of truck you drive for work, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the available safety technologies and how they perform in winter road conditions. For example, if your vehicle has an antilock brake system, you should examine its capabilities to ensure it’s still in working shape and will help you stop easier in slick conditions. If you have this type of feature, apply firm, continuous pressure to prevent your wheel from locking up as you slow down.

Professional drivers without antilock brakes can pump their brake pedal if they start to experience a locked steering wheel. Before using this technique, get your brakes checked by a professional to make sure you won’t be put in a dangerous situation. 

Quick Tips for Winter Driving Safety

  • Practice driving in the cold weather: During daylight, rehearse maneuvers slowly on ice or snow in an empty parking lot.
  • Steer into a skid: If the back of your car fishtails slightly to the right, you’ll want to turn the steering wheel in the same direction so the car slides rather than rolls with the inertia rather than skidding against it. Just don’t jerk the steering wheel too hard — the trick is to use small, slow movements.
  • If you’re stalled or stopped don’t overexert yourself: If you do end up stuck in the cold weather, it’s best to stay in your car rather than try to push yourself out. In this situation, it’s best to use your warning device — like reflective tape or a flare — to mark yourself and run your car just enough to stay warm. 
  • Be aware of how your vehicle reacts in the winter months: Whether it’s your brakes or tires, knowing how well your truck does in harsh weather conditions is helpful for you to respond calmly and collectively to incidents. Practicing can help with this. 

What Training Should Cover

Video Training Power is focused on providing instructors with valuable training resources. We offer video courses designed to give employees all the information necessary to drive safely in bad weather. 

Our courses include:

Winter Driving: When the Rules Change: This seven-lesson course instructs drivers on measures to increase driver and occupant safety, such as clearing snow, frost and ice from the windows and keeping the windows fog-free. The training demonstrates proper winter driving techniques for avoiding skids, stopping safely and how to monitor the road for potential black ice hazards. 

Driving Safely in the Hazards of Winter: Gives drivers tips for reacting to incidents in icy weather and how to slow down when having to come to a quick stop on ice. Throughout the seven lessons, drivers will build up their mental toolkit to respond to unfamiliar situations they may come across when doing their jobs, keeping businesses running smoothly and deliveries dropped off on time. 

Heavy Trucks: Adverse Driving Conditions: Provides professional drivers with driving best practices for all ranges of weather and road conditions, from hot weather, water, mountains and everything in between. Because jobs don’t stop when adverse conditions arise, workers must know how to respond and have the resources they need to be equipped for anything the road may throw at them.

Additionally, this practical information can be put to use right away as it helps workers study for the commercial driver’s license test. Other topics that are covered include wide driving, and driving through water.

Defensive Driving: When Good Weather Goes Bad: This eight-lesson course delivers instruction on handling a vehicle through rain, flood, wind and fog conditions. Through incident reenactments, the program shows how certified drivers approach and handle when the weather turns sour and how to drive defensively and remain calm in any road condition. 

All of these courses can be presented in the classroom so you can watch and discuss together!

Video Training Power: Your Modern Training Solution

Keep your team safe by equipping them with extensive training that’s accessible no matter what type of driving or weather they experience daily. Because professional drivers spend more time on the road than any other professional, the importance of this knowledge can’t be overstated. This is how you can equip your team and ensure they know it is necessary to stay safe and remain productive, no matter the weather. 

Video Training Power has engaging, on-demand courses built for a classroom setting. These videos help lead discussions on critical topics and encourage learners to ask questions and dive deeper into the topic with those around them. 

With Video Training Power, teams can:

  • Swap expensive, outdated DVDs for high-quality courses that constantly update with new updates and advancements.
  • Reach every member with information that’s both accessible and engaging. 
  • Access our entire library of content for one simple subscription annually. 

Gone are the days of boring, out-of-date training sessions. With Video Training Power, you can deliver helpful tips in the most effective method possible. Get started with Video Training Power today.