Trucking in the springtime might not come with the same hazards as winter, but it still poses certain threats to safety. Operating a big rig during the transition from winter to summer can mean heavy rainfall, slick roads, an increase in construction projects, crossing animals, and unpredictable temperature drops. Stay safe on the roads this spring season by learning how to avoid the most common hazards.
Continue driving at safe speeds as snow melts and rainfall wets the roads. April showers can turn quickly into summer thunderstorms – but if the weather changes abruptly, you may encounter deadly ice before the summertime. Slowing your speed can prepare you for anything. You will have more stopping power at safe speeds, even on slick roads. You will also be able to avoid obstacles or incidents without jerking the wheel and compromising your safety. Stay at or below the posted speed limits, especially on rural roads. Give yourself extra time to drive in the springtime, if possible. Feeling rushed to get to your destination can lead to unsafe speeds and preventable trucking accidents in springtime.
Practice Defensive Driving
Many other drivers can overreact to the dangers of springtime, making the roads more dangerous. Watch out for drivers who may overcorrect their steering to avoid a crossing animal or pothole, or those who cannot drive well in the rain. Residential and tourist drivers may slow down to a crawl, pull to the side of the interstate during a storm, or drive erratically in bad weather. Anticipate the actions of other drivers. Drive defensively, assuming they will break roadway rules and come into your lane. Keep an eye on your mirrors to avoid blind spot accidents as much as possible.
Hydroplaning is one of the most serious risks of rainfall in springtime. As a truck driver, your risks are higher than the average driver because of the increased weight of your rig. It is up to you to recognize the dangers of hydroplaning and to act accordingly. If you go through a large puddle or flooded area of the road, do so slowly. Maintain a safe, steady speed and only brake gradually if the need arises. If you hydroplane, braking too hard can cause the 18-wheeler to jackknife out of control. Do not turn the wheel. Go straight through the puddle. If hydroplaning turns the direction of your truck, gently turn the wheel in the same direction. Only brake when it is safe to do so.
Watch for Crossing Animals
Wildlife gets more active during warmer weather. As the temperatures increase, beware of crossing animals – especially if your route takes you on a country road. Although hitting a deer or other animal won’t cause the same amount of damage it would if you were in a smaller vehicle, it could still be enough to halt your route, cause an accident, or make you lose control of the truck. Drive at lower speeds on rural roads, and pay attention to animal crossing signs. Deer are most active at dawn and dusk. Prepare to brake, but do not swerve to avoid striking an animal. Practice these safety tips at all times to help avoid a collision this spring.
Editor’s note: This blog was originally written for the GTG Technology Group, Avoid Springtime Road Dangers Using These 4 Tips.