Updated December 2019
The trucking industry isn’t one that slows down for the cold, snowy, and icy Minnesota winters. Goods still must be delivered and equipment must be moved, so that means truck drivers just keep on trucking. However, while doing so they must be aware of the additional safety precautions they will need to take to keep themselves – and those they share the road with – as safe as possible while driving in harsh Minnesota winters.
The following are tips to help truck drivers stay safe during Minnesota winter driving.
1. Pre-Trips Keep Your Truck in Running Order
During your training at HMTT, you’ll spend time learning pre-trip and physical examinations of the truck. Conducting a vehicle inspection before each trip ensures that your truck is in good running condition.
As the weather changes, you’ll need to stay on top of maintenance items like washer blades and fluid, and clear off any snow and ice, especially on doors, windows, and lights. Checking to make sure your tires have good tread on them and are at the right tire pressure can help save you from burning up extra, unneeded fuel and can help you get traction on the road when you need it most.
Noticing that something is wrong at the truck stop can save you from breaking down in the middle of a freezing cold interstate in the middle of Minnesota.
2. Know Snow Chain Requirements
Consider your route. It’s not something we normally consider in the Midwest, but some states require the use of snow chains in certain areas for winter driving. If your route takes you out west, you may have to put snow chains on your truck if you are hauling exceptionally heavy loads or are traveling through mountainous roadways. Chains provide added traction in addition to what the tread on your normal tires provides. Know when you’ll need them, and know how to use them. Follow the posted signs and carrier requirements, and use your radio to monitor traffic and road condition updates along your route.
3. Slow Your Roll
Roads that just look wet might actually be covered in black ice. Sudden starts, or hard braking on slick, icy roads can cause a loss of vehicle control. Starting off slowly, and leaving additional space between you and other drivers give you more time to see road hazards, and maneuver as necessary.
A trainer at Heavy Metal Truck Training, Mark Chlebecek, was recently interviewed by CBSN Minnesota about the hazards and safety measures to be aware of while driving in tough winter conditions.
“The winter adds another element to speed and space management. We have to decrease our speed and increase our space.”
For vehicles, that means leaving at least a 3-second gap behind a semi-truck and semi-truck drivers need to leave at least 7 seconds behind another vehicle. Chlebecek’s advice for all drivers…, “If you’re not confident driving in this stuff, whether it is a car or a truck, don’t drive.”
4. Pack Basic Necessity Items
Carrying a winter-weather kit is key. If you break down you’ll want to have some basic items on hand. Extra clothes, a flashlight, batteries, jumper cables, blankets, a thermal sleeping bag, jumper cables, a small shovel, snow brush/scraper, winter salt or cat litter, extra bottles of water, and some snacks are good to keep on hand – especially if you will be waiting a few hours for help.
5. Practice Basic Traveling Safety…Always
Practice safe driving in all weather conditions! Take things slow, and give yourself extra space between cars or other trucks. Practicing courtesy to other drivers makes it safer for both you and others on the road to get where you are going more safely.
These are 5 great tips to help keep you driving safely during Minnesota winter. Want more? Learn how to stay safe on the road by enrolling in one of our CDL programs! Contact us at Heavy Metal Truck Training to register today for our next class! 651-528-8994