It's that time of the year again! Summer is a memory, and Fall is quickly becoming one as well. Temperatures are going to drop soon, and snow has even already started to fly in certain parts of the United States.
This will be my 4th winter as a truck driver, and if I have learned anything over the years, it’s that you cannot be too prepared for winter driving. Driver Solutions has previously blogged about 8 tips for making it through the winter. I've also blogged before about my first year driving through the winter and answered some of our readers' questions about driving in winter weather conditions.
I firmly believe you can never have too many helpful resources in trucking, especially when it comes to winter driving. So with the season coming sooner rather than later I would like to take a moment talking my own winter trucking tips so you can be be as prepared as possible for the cold and unpredictable conditions.
Don’t Wait to Start Preparing
Winter driving will challenge you, not only on the road, but whenever you decide to shut it down for the night too. The time to think about winter driving is now because things can happen so quickly on the road. Winter can rear its ugly head anywhere, even in places you wouldn’t ever expect it to. My 5 winter tips are critical in my comfort and safety throughout the entire season.
5 Winter Trucking Tips from Wayne
1. Stock Up on Water
Make sure to have plenty of water on your truck! Do you have enough to last a few days? Here's another crazy question: Do you have unfrozen water? I learned this lesson the hard way. I used to keep all my water in my side boxes, which is great in the summer because it saves you space. But, it sure does freeze fast in well below-zero weather, like I saw a couple times in Minnesota last winter. Now, I leave a few gallons in my truck where the heat is to ensure it doesn’t freeze. If you have a complete breakdown, the water will be much easier to keep from freezing if it's not close to freezing already.
2. Invest in Sleeping Bags/Blankets
I suggest you invest in a higher quality one. Last winter I had a breakdown at a rest area, my truck wouldn't restart when the temperature plummeted, and I had no heat. No heat from my spare heater either. It took the repair shop 5 hours to get to me. So when the temperature plummeted to 3 degrees, I spent a lot of time curled up comfortably under my sleeping bag. I was very, very happy that I had purchased a quality sleeping bag.
3. Have Plenty of Warm Clothing
Do you have enough winter gear to do your job outside in the elements too? A great jacket, hats, pants, and possibly a whole winter suit can go a long way in keeping you comfortable. Another huge part of this is keeping your hands warm and dry. When I was flatbedding I learned I needed 3 pairs of winter gloves. Why? Well, when your gloves get cold or wet, you need to use a fresh pair. If they both get cold or wet, you go to a 3rd pair. Cycle through the pairs and you’ll be able to have a set of warm, dry gloves to put on at all times.
4. Have Quality Footwear
Some people like larger, bulkier winter boots. I like the new, lighter, not as bulky winter boots. Personally, it’s more about the combination of boots and socks together. Boots are critical; but so are your socks. Choose your footwear wisely because it makes a huge difference. It’s worth the money to spend a little more for higher quality items. Your choice will decide whether you are comfortable or not.
5. Stock Up Your Food Supply
You really need a week's worth of canned food in your truck. I buy the canned food that you don't need a can opener for. As a first year driver, many people don't have the money to buy a microwave or a food heater. Trust me, I know the struggle. I’ve eaten more than my fair share of cold Spaghettios...not as bad as you would think! They definitely weren’t my favorite. However, it could’ve been a lot worse, and they saved me from going hungry. Having food stocked in your truck is imperative to your safety in case anything should happen.
While these tips should give you a good basis for preparing for the winter trucking season, there are definitely more that I will add to my next blog. But let's hear from you truckers out there, too. What do you do to prepare for the winter trucking season?
About The Author
Wayne got his start in trucking by going through the Driver Solutions company paid CDL training program back in 2012. Since then, he has traveled over 300,000 safe miles and counting! After seeing his photos and reading about his adventures, we knew we had to share them on our blog. Join Wayne on his journey for a first hand look at life on the road!