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By: Jill Schultz
Publication: Transportation Safety Training Newsletter
Date Posted: Oct 18, 2018
It will be here sooner than we think — the extreme cold, snow, and ice that mark the beginning of the winter driving season.
Conditions can change quickly in the winter. Being prepared for what Mother Nature throws at us can make the difference when it comes to safe travel. Use this training blueprint to aid in making your training more cost-effective, memorable, objectively evaluated, and efficient in use of time.
Being prepared before adverse winter weather strikes can help reduce downtime and help ensure driver safety. When it comes to the vehicle, the driver should make sure that:
In certain areas of the country, tire chains are required on commercial motor vehicles when operating in adverse winter weather conditions. The driver should:
Chains should be snug, but not too tight. They should be regularly checked and retightened when necessary.
Warning devices, jumper cables, a flashlight, a tool box, and a first aid kit are supplies the driver should carry in the vehicle. During the winter months, a snow brush and scraper, a small shovel, and some form of traction devices (chains, sand, etc.) should also be in the vehicle.
The vehicle should be stocked with extra food and water, blankets, medicine (as needed), and proper outerwear (e.g., hat, gloves, boots, heavy jacket).
The No. 1 rule for a driver who is stranded — stay in the vehicle! A stranded driver should put on his/her extra clothing to stay warm and use his/her food and beverage supply cautiously. Depending on road and weather conditions, the driver could be stranded for a while.
The driver should only run the vehicle’s engine if he/she is certain the exhaust pipe is free of snow. If the vehicle is running, a window should be left open a crack to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Rapidly changing weather and road conditions pose several challenges during the winter months. The following are a few guidelines drivers should follow when on the road during hazardous winter weather.
Black ice forms when temperatures drop rapidly and hover around the freezing mark. Any moisture on the road freezes into a smooth, nearly invisible, slippery surface. Most drivers aren’t aware of black ice until it is too late, making it one of the more dangerous road conditions that a driver faces.
On cold days, when the road is wet, extra attention should be paid to the spray thrown from other vehicles. If the spray suddenly stops, black ice may be forming.
Bridges, shaded areas, beneath underpasses, the lower side of banked curves, and dips in the road are the most common places for black ice to form.
Because they remove snow and apply sand, salt, or other road treatment, snowplows travel at a slower rate of speed than other vehicles. A safe following distance of at least five to six car lengths behind a snowplow should be maintained.
A driver should never drive next to a snowplow. A plow can shift sideways after hitting a snowpack or drift.
Also, a driver should never drive through white-out conditions caused by swirling snow around a snowplow.
If passing a snowplow is necessary, it should be done in a safe and legal passing area that is clear of snow and ice. Drivers should ensure there is enough clearance to the side, as plows are wider than most vehicles and portions of the plow and blade may not be visible due to blowing snow.
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This article was featured in the Transportation Safety Training Newsletter Newsletter.
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