6 Tips to Avoid Truck Accidents in the Winter
Truck accidents are unfortunately prevalent. There are around 500,000 truck accidents every year in the United States, and about 5,000 of them result in death (there were 4,119 deaths in 2019 alone). Truck accidents are more widespread during the winter.
As a professional truck driver, you can't afford to be sloppy. The stakes are very high if you get in an accident. You are far more likely to injure or kill yourself or someone else if you cause the accident. You also stand to lose your CDL license or be skyrocketing malpractice or driver insurance premiums.
The good news is that there are a lot of tips that you can take to minimize the risk of these problems. Some advice that you will want to follow to avoid being in a truck accident is listed below.
Drive slow even if the speed limit doesn't require it.
Nobody likes following speed limits. They often seem arbitrary and it is easy to rationalize breaking them to keep up with traffic when everybody else on the road is ignoring them.
However, as a professional truck driver, you can't afford to speed. The likelihood of losing your commercial driver license and livelihood is massive if you get too many tickets.
More importantly, the probability of getting in a severe accident will increase exponentially if you drive faster than the speed limit. At the same time, speeding is even higher during the winter.
Some state and federal lawmakers have proposed mandatory maximum speeds of 65 mph for all truck drivers. Although these laws have not been passed in most states, they do serve a useful purpose. You are much more likely to get in an accident if you drive over these speeds. You should probably consider moving even slower in the winter, even if that means going 10 miles under the speed limit.
Make sure that you are aware of your blind spots.
Blind spots are much larger for trucks than they are for other vehicles. You probably already learned a bit about them when you were getting your CDL, but actually dealing with them on the road is going to be a totally different issue.
You need to be mindful of these blind spots when you are driving long distances. You have to make sure that you have a good idea of where other vehicles are on the road and tell if they have ended up in your blind spot. You also need to make sure that you give enough notice before using your turn signals or start slowing down to avoid these problems.
Make sure that you get plenty of rest.
Fatigue is one of the biggest causes of truck accidents. One survey has shown that around 35% of truck drivers have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.
Driving while fatigued as a truck driver is dangerous in any weather conditions. However, it is even worse during the winter. You will have a more challenging time retaining control of your vehicle if it starts skidding on ice or reacting in time to an accident if you are tired.
Be aware of hazards along common routes that you take.
If you are working for regular customers, you will probably be following some routes regularly. As you become more familiar with these routes, you will recognize some of the hazards that they pose. It is a good idea to learn about these hazards during decent weather conditions. Otherwise, you risk having an unexpected accident during the winter.
Make sure your truck is winterized ahead of time.
You can't afford to drive a truck without making sure it is winterized. The tires should be replaced with snow tires, and you should seriously consider putting chains around them. These steps will significantly reduce the possibility that you will end up in an accident. It is a small cost to avoid a potentially life ending problem.
Avoid any unnecessary distractions.
You need to do everything in your power to avoid distractions on the road. It should go without saying that texting and driving is incredibly stupid for any driver. Truck drivers, in particular, should never text and drive. The risk of texting and driving is even higher during the winter.
Unfortunately, many truck drivers still make this incredibly stupid mistake. As a result, you are drastically increasing the probability that you will get in an accident if you text and drive or have any other major distractions.
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