Driving heavy-duty trucks can often be dangerous due to their large size. Especially when driving on narrow roads or in icy, snowy, and/or windy road conditions. It’s always important to take weather conditions into consideration when driving a heavy-duty truck to have as safe of a drive as possible. Here are some tips to help you complete your drives – safely.
Why wind is particularly dangerous for heavy-duty trucks
Windy conditions are often harder to see than ice and snow. However, they have just as much, if not more, of an effect on your ability to drive a large truck safely. This is due to the size and shape of the trailers being transported. Trailers have a very large surface area for wind to exert force on. High enough wind speeds, particularly in the form of crosswinds, can make staying in your lane difficult and, in the worst case, result in a force capable of flipping an entire truck on its side. This is especially the case for trucks carrying low weight loads in their trailers. The lower your weight, the less wind force is required to tip your truck on its side. So be sure to consider the weight of your load when making the decision to drive in windy conditions.
Avoid driving in high winds
As with any treacherous road conditions, the best thing to do is always to avoid them. Windy conditions will be reported in any weather forecast service so be sure to check these before your drive. Especially if driving in times of year or areas that are known to have high winds. Be sure to check for detours that allow you to avoid high winds on your drive. Even if those detours require slightly longer drives. A shorter but windier drive could prove to not only take longer as a result of you dealing with the conditions but may also result in a dangerous situation causing a much longer delay and risking your safety as well. It is always better to avoid dangerous conditions whenever possible.
What to do if you have to drive in windy conditions
Inevitably, heavy-duty truck drivers will sometimes find themselves driving in windy conditions and need to know how best to handle it. This may be because you’ve already started your drive and found yourself in unexpectedly high wind conditions without any good detours available. In this case, the following tips will help ensure you can handle the drive in the safest manner possible.
The slower you’re driving, the better you’ll be able to control your truck and maintain your lane. You’ll be able to have more time to react to changing conditions and avoid obstacles such as fallen trees which may obstruct your path. Furthermore, in the event of a collision or your truck flipping over, the consequences will be much less severe when travelling at lower speeds.
Use your hazard lights
It’s a good idea to turn on your hazard lights if you feel that driving has become difficult. This will alert other drivers, allowing them time to give you space and be careful when passing.
Secure doors and load
High winds can cause poorly secured doors to open which can be extremely dangerous. Pay extra attention to ensure all doors are securely locked. Any loads being transported should also be carefully secured to avoid shifting in the trailer. This can further destabilize your heavy-duty truck and increase the chances of being flipped over.
Firmly grip the steering wheel
Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel to best respond should winds move your truck.
Pay attention to visual cues
Visual cues will help you anticipate and prepare for areas with high winds. Swaying trees are the most common cue. Some places will have signs warning drivers of areas with high crosswinds so be sure to keep an eye out for these.
Be sure to stop driving if needed
If wind speeds get high enough, the safest thing to do is to pull over and wait until they die down. Be sure to bring enough water, food, and sleeping supplies if you feel this may be a possibility.