The festive season is upon us. Meaning food, gifts, and bad road conditions.
But, never fear, you’ve got an extra gift this year and you’re allowed to open it early. Here are our 9 top tips for trucking this Christmas.
Check the Weather Forecast.
The weather in the UK is unpredictable at the best of times. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least check.
Before you hit the road, our advice is to always check the weather for your location, route, and destination. It’s simple enough advice, but you don’t want to be caught short in a snowstorm because you didn’t check the weather forecast that morning.
Inspect Your Vehicle.
Trucks are magnificent pieces of human engineering. However, they’re not perfect. And they need to be looked after. Especially during the Christmas period when they’re subjected to bad weather.
Along with your regular routine checks, we advise you to ensure you make any vehicle inspection during the winter months is extra thorough. Keep both your headlights and taillights clean, ensure any cargo or goods area is secure, and check that your tire pressure is correct. As these are all areas that can be affected greatly during the cold months around Christmas.
If there are any signs of damage to your truck, or something fails your inspection, get it seen to. Do not risk driving with any sort of issue that may hinder your time on the road. Especially during times of ice, snow, and general bad weather.
Light Up Your Life.
As we’ve previously mentioned, you should ensure that both your headlights and your taillights are cleaned as often as you can. But you must also remember to use them.
The months surrounding Christmas are, of course, largely cold and damp. With chances of snow and ice along with them. However, they also offer the lowest hours of sunlight of the year. This, combined with the bad weather conditions, can result in a low-level of visibility outside. Of course, having limited visibility when driving is extremely dangerous.
Because of this, it’s important to keep your lights on in times of low visibility, when you can see no more than 150 meters ahead of the vehicle. These conditions are common in weather such as heavy rain or snow. But it’s also important to use the correct lights. Because if you try to use your high beams in thick fog, the light will often reflect towards you and impair your visibility further.
Don’t Be a Hero.
Late delivery is better than no delivery at all.
If weather conditions become severe, you’ll want to consider pulling over in an appropriate place and waiting until the weather passes. Your health and safety come first when it comes to driving your truck. And there is no shame in waiting out bad weather conditions until it’s safer to get back on the road.
Call the appropriate people to let them know that conditions are unsafe to drive in. In most cases, they’ll organise for the delivery to be rescheduled, allowing you to wait out the bad weather. When the weather clears, you’ll get back behind the wheel and continue on your route.
Pack to Prepare.
If you’ve followed tip 1, you’ve checked the weather. So now you can pack appropriately. Our advice is to bring at least the following items:
- Blankets – Because if you’re going to have to sleep in the cab of your truck during the winter months, you’ll want to at least stay warm.
- Clothing – of course, we’re not just talking about the clothing on your back. In case your clothes get soaked or ruined, you’ll have spares to change into.
- Flashlight – We’ve already highlighted that the winter can bring low-visibility. So, having a flashlight in the cab is always a smart move. But we think the best advice is to keep a flashlight with you on the road beyond just the Christmas period.
- Hi-Vis Equipment – Cones, vests, jackets, the works. This is the sort of equipment you’ll likely be carrying in your cab anyway, but they come in handy during times of low visibility.
- Ice Scraper & De-Icer – Because we all know that Christmas time = frost and ice. Trucks windscreens + frost and ice = a bad time. I don’t think we need to say more.
- Jump Cables – Any driver will tell you how important it can be to have jump cables with you. So, it’s a no-brainer to carry them with you during the winter months.
- Shovel & Salt – You never know when a shovel and a bag of rock salt will get you out of a jam.
This is just the equipment that we recommend you take specifically during the winter months. For a list of accessories you’ll want to carry in your cab at all times, click here.
Safe & Smooth.
Trucks are dangerous vehicles to drive even at the best of times. Let alone during Christmas and the festive period.
So, when the roads are icy and visibility is low, you don’t want to be driving recklessly. Our advice is to take it easy and take extra care. As we’ve highlighted in previous blogs, drivers are often unpredictable when driving alongside trucks. Add cold weather and low visibility to the mix, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a traffic collision.
You’ll also want to leave extra space (or a larger buffer) between you and the vehicle ahead of you, due to the icy or slippery conditions. Your braking distance will be larger, meaning it will take you more time to bring your vehicle to a complete stop in case of an emergency. Allow for at least double the distance you would leave in dry conditions.
Providing you take extra care when driving over the festive period and winter in general, you’ll limit the chances of an accident occurring. And, as a professional driver, we think any tips for avoiding collisions is good advice to follow.
In & Out.
This piece of advice sounds simple and easy, but we’re going to highlight it. Because we know there are some readers out there that won’t have considered this until now.
Be careful when climbing in and out of your cab during the Christmas period. Why? The slipping and tripping hazards. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear, walk, and take your time. It only takes one slip or trip to step you from driving for a period of time.
Is this advice simple? Yes. Is this advice common sense? Yes. Will everybody follow this advice? No. Do we feel better than we’ve warned people? Yes.
Inspect Your Vehicle… Again.
Because you should always inspect your vehicle twice.
That’s it. That’s the advice.
If you’re looking for Driver CPC training, click here.