A large truck transports cargo during a winter storm. Thissymbolizes the strength and determination of the transportation industry in challenging weather conditions

truck driving in snow

A large truck transports cargo during a winter storm. Thissymbolizes the strength and determination of the transportation industry in challenging weather conditions

Safe Winter Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

Published on December 6, 2023 - 4 minute read

For those in the trucking and delivery industries, driving in winter weather is unavoidable. Extreme weather such as snow, ice and freezing cold is challenging for both driver and truck. That’s why being prepared ahead of time by having a winter driving checklist and keeping up with your truck or fleet maintenance is key to staying safe on the winter roads.

While the roads truck drivers and fleets are traveling on may be traveled often, winter conditions can make even familiar routes much more challenging. Quick-changing road conditions can make winter driving a challenge for even the most seasoned drivers. You may be ready for changing conditions, but other drivers may not be. So, you need to be extra careful and watchful while driving.

Preparing yourself and your vehicle is the first step to staying safe while driving in winter. Can't predict all problems, but it helps. Check out our winter driving tips for truck drivers to help you prepare.

You can even download our winter driving checklist and keep it in your cab!


Prepare your vehicle

Road conditions always have some unpredictability, but wintertime more than any other season, you never know what problems you may run into on the road. Doing preventive maintenance before every trip can help make sure your truck can cope with the winter conditions and be prepared for most situations.

Here is what you should do before each trip:

• Check your antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and cooling system – fill them up if they are low

Make sure your tires are well-suited for the weather. There are no specific regulations in the U.S. or Canada requiring “winter tires” to be installed on heavy commercial trucks during certain months, as is common in other countries, but it is still important that your tires are inspected to make sure they can withstand the weather conditions you may face.

Be extra vigilant with tire pressure. The air temperature reduces tire pressure in cold weather, so you should check your pressure more often than during summer months. Please note: If you are checking your pressure in a heated garage with an air supply that is also at the higher temperature, you will need to adjust your pressures for the outside ambient temperature. Consult your tire manufacturer's Cold Climate Pressure Correction Data when inflating indoors.

Always put security first. Making money depends on making the delivery, but If the weather is too extreme, do not go out on the roads. This can be a tough decision to make, but driver safety is most important.

Keep your truck clear of winter uncleanliness. Inspect your lights and license plate to make sure they’re free of snow and dirt and defrost your windshield to maintain maximum visibility.

Wash your vehicle frequently to prevent the build-up of road salt, which causes corrosion.

In some areas, tire chains are mandatory. Make sure you know how to mount them, especially in freezing weather. It’s a good idea to practice beforehand. Find more information on tire chain requirements by state here.


Adjust your truck driving

Keep your distance. To be able to react quickly, leave extra space between you and other drivers. This will help if the car in front of you suddenly stops.

Be wary of black ice. Snow on the road makes drivers cautious because it's easy to see. However, invisible black ice is even more dangerous because drivers don't notice it.

Stay vigilant for black ice, especially on bridges when temperatures are freezing. One small tip: if the spray from tires of vehicles in front of you stops, that may be a sign of black ice.

Slow down. Keep in mind that speed limits are set for dry roads and good weather conditions. Adjust your speed based on the road conditions, not necessarily the flow of traffic, regardless of the posted speed limit on the road.

Drive smoothly: sharp curves, sudden accelerations and hard braking decrease adherence. Keep a steady speed and, again, stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.


What to bring with you in your truck

• Sand and a shovel: Two items that are very important if you should get stuck in ice or snow as both can be used to help get your truck unstuck.

• Warm winter clothes: overall, hat, gloves, good shoes, the whole deal. This is because the main risk with winter driving is having to wait for hours for conditions to get better or because a truck is blocking the road – and when you’re not rolling, it could get extremely cold in the cab.

• Water and food, for those same long waits stuck on the road.

• At least half a tank of gas at all times, in case the journey is longer than expected.

• A flashlight and high-visibility jacket.


Prepare your body

· Stay in shape. Sitting behind the wheel for hours and hours is tough: your body has to be physically prepared. Try cab exercises while stopped on your journey, especially if you’re in a traffic jam due to winter conditions.

· Take frequent breaks: when you’re tired your reaction time gets longer. This is valid all year round, but winter driving tends to be more strenuous, which makes breaks even more necessary.

tires in snow

Safety & Mobility in severe winter conditions

Michelin offers several tire options for urban, regional and long-haul driving that are ideal for winter conditions. The tire offerings ensure optimal safety in severe winter conditions, while providing outstanding grip on snow and ice.

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