In Canada, there are over 160,000 vehicle accidents every year.
If that number alone does not inspire you to take extra caution when driving, allow us to put it this way: that is one accident – whether by collision, rollover, or jackknife – every three minutes. Of those, 30% are environment and weather-related.
So as some parts of the world move into Severe Weather Preparedness Week, we also want to make sure that we’re taking a look at how truck drivers can stay safe on the road. Especially as the weather showdown between winter and spring looms, it’s important to remind ourselves what this week represents: safety in severe weather conditions.
Blizzards, ice storms, flash flooding – all of these present unique risks for those behind the wheel. So, in order to help keep you safe during this potentially hazardous time, we’ve put together a few tips for truck drivers preparing for severe weather.
Severe Weather Conditions You’re Likely to Encounter on the Road With The Ever Changing Weather In Alberta
As a truck driver, you may face a number of severe weather conditions on the road, especially when you consider the radical climate changes in Alberta.
A blizzard is an intense snowstorm characterized by strong winds and very low temperatures. Visibility can be reduced to near zero at times, making it extremely dangerous to drive in. If caught in a blizzard while driving, pull over and wait for it to pass.
An ice storm is a winter weather event that occurs when freezing rain coats surfaces with a thick layer of ice. This can make driving extremely hazardous, as icy roads can cause vehicles to lose control or even skid off the road. Always slow down when driving in an ice storm, and be especially careful when turning or braking.
Although flash flooding in Alberta is not likely, Flash flooding can occur suddenly and without warning, making it a particularly dangerous weather event to encounter while driving. When flash flooding is occurring, do not attempt to drive through water that is deeper than the height of your vehicle’s headlights – you could easily lose control and be swept away.
High winds can cause problems for both truck drivers and their vehicles. Not only can high winds make it difficult to drive, but they can also result in downed trees or power lines, as well as flying debris. If you find yourself caught in a windstorm while driving, pull over and wait until the storm has passed.
Extreme heat can be just as dangerous as extreme cold. It can affect both your truck and your body, leading to problems like dehydration, heatstroke, tire blowouts, and engine strain. When driving in extreme heat, be sure to stay hydrated and take breaks often to avoid overheating. You may also want to consider driving in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
How To Stay Safe During Severe Weather
1. Check the Weather Forecast Before Heading Out
Many phone apps now offer hour-by-hour weather updates that can give you a good idea of when the worst of the storm will hit. It’s also a good idea to check local news outlets and trucking websites for updates and alerts. If possible, try to plan your route around the worst of the weather.
2. Give Yourself Extra Time
When severe weather is on the horizon, it’s always a good idea to give yourself a few extra hours to get to your destination. This way, if you do run into some bad weather, you won’t be putting yourself under unnecessary pressure to get where you’re going on time.
Of course, we know that isn’t always possible. If you find yourself short on time, make sure to take extra care and drive slower than usual. Your cargo may be time-sensitive, but it’s not always worth putting your life at risk.
3. Drive Defensively
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember that defensive driving is always the best way to stay safe on the road – especially when severe weather is involved.
In general, you should be leaving plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will give you more time to react if they make a sudden stop. You should also be aware of what’s going on around you at all times, and be prepared to adjust your speed or route if necessary.
4. Pack an Emergency Kit
The last thing you want is to be stranded on the side of the road during a severe weather event.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to have an emergency kit packed and ready to go. This should include things like food, water, blankets, warm clothes, a first-aid kit, and anything else you might need in case you find yourself in a bind.
You should also make sure you have a charged cell phone with you at all times, so you can call for help if necessary.
5. Check Your Truck
Before you hit the road, it’s always a good idea to give your truck a once-over and make sure everything is in working order.
This includes checking your tires, brakes, lights, and wipers. If you’re driving in bad weather, you don’t want anything to go wrong with your truck – that could lead to a very dangerous situation.
Stay Safe & Prepared at All Times
Truck drivers are on the front lines when it comes to severe weather – they’re the ones who have to keep Canada moving, no matter what Mother Nature throws their way. That’s why it’s so important for truckers to be prepared for whatever conditions they might encounter on the open road.
If you want to learn more about severe weather preparedness, or if you’re looking to become a professional truck driver, we offer a variety of courses that can help you stay safe and prepared. For more information, visit our website or give us a call today. Stay safe out there!