Storm safety for truckers
Driving in the middle of a bad storm is dangerous for all motorists – from those steering sedans to those navigating SUVs. But it’s especially treacherous for truckers. Think about it: Truckers are maneuvering up to 80,000 pounds of steel and rubber through rainstorms, high winds, tornadoes, and blizzards.
That means safety tips for truck drivers are super important. There are general safety precautions all truckers should take even if the weather is clear and sunny. In the event of extreme weather, however, truckers have another set of guidelines they should follow.
We’re going to look at both so that truck drivers keep themselves and their rigs safe no matter what Mother Nature sends their way.
GENERAL SAFETY TIPS FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
Most general safety tips for truck drivers are essentially the same kind of safety tips all motorists should know and use. Many of them are, well, common sense. But it never hurts to have that checklist handy.
- Buckle Up – It’s the law, and it will save your life.
- Don’t Use Your Hand-Held Cell Phone While Driving – Talking, texting, and surfing the internet on your cell phone distracts you from the road, so don’t use it while driving.
- Follow Speed Limits – Make sure you obey them (check for special truck speed limits).
- Avoid Drugs and Alcohol Behind the Wheel – Drugs and alcohol impair your judgment. That’s a recipe for disaster.
- Map Out Your Trip – The more you plan your journey, the safer it will be.
- Mind the Space You Need for Your Rig – Know your truck’s height and weight and be mindful of them to avoid tight circumstances.
- Slow Down to Turn and Curve – Slow down for turns, curves, changing lanes, etc.
- Keep a Comfortable Stopping Distance – Huge 18-wheelers can’t stop on a dime. Give yourself plenty of space and time.
- Check the Weather – Know what Mother Nature has in store where you are headed.
- Eat Healthy, Get Rest – A healthy diet and a good night’s sleep work wonders for staying alert throughout the long haul.
DRIVING A SEMI IN HIGH WINDS
Some truck drivers might not immediately see the concern in driving through high winds. They might be thinking that only a mighty gust could impact an up to 80,000-pound piece of machinery. But when rigs drive through open spaces, tunnels, highway overpasses, and mountains during strong winds these areas become wind tunnels that threaten to derail your rig. So, stay alert, keep both hands on the wheel, and be prepared for the gust to try and push you out of your lane. These same basic rules apply if you must drive through a hurricane.
TRUCK DRIVING IN THE RAIN OR A THUNDERSTORM
Driving through heavy rain presents the danger of hydroplaning across slick roads. Always check your speed, your stopping distance, and your alertness. If thunder and lightning accompany the rain, that presents even more danger. A lightning strike or down power line creates a high-voltage crisis for a truck driver. If an electric line is touching your truck, do not get out. Instead, try to back up. If you can’t do that either, call for help.
WHAT A TRUCKER SHOULD DO IN CASE OF A TORNADO
Tornadoes are extremely dangerous and unpredictable, as they can change direction and shift their path seemingly in seconds. They also make debris fly fast and furious, which many times is more life-threatening than the tornado itself. If a tornado approaches while you are driving:
- Get off the road – If you can, get off the road completely and seek shelter somewhere indoors away from the path of the tornado.
- Avoid stopping under bridges and tunnels – This is where you will find funnel winds, which are very dangerous.
- Stay low – If you are stuck in your rig, keep your seatbelt on, leave the truck running so the airbags will function, duck down as low as you can (below the windows), and cover your head with your hands or a blanket. Even better if you can leave your truck and lie low in a ditch.
STAY CONNECTED WITH A WEATHER APP
Knowing about impending extreme weather before you drive into it can be lifesaving. Luckily, there are trustworthy free weather apps out there for Android, iOS, and Windows phones such as The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, and Storm Shield. Downloading one of them to your phone is quick and easy.