The holiday season, the busiest time of the year for trucking companies and truckers alike is practically here. Every year trucking companies and truckers across our great nation get ready to haul the most amount of goods. From Amazon packages, toilet paper, kids toys, essentials, and everything in between. The streets around the country will become far more congested with an increasing number of cars. An increase in traffic flow can make things even more challenging for the drivers of large commercial vehicles.
Statistics show that there is around a 36% increase in the number of automobiles on the road throughout the Christmas season. The majority of this traffic is caused by an increase in passenger cars (because people are traveling for the holidays), delivery fleets (since people are delivering for the holidays), and people carriers, such as buses (transporting people for the holidays). Deteriorating weather conditions over the holiday season are common for most parts of our nation. There is also significantly less daylight because days are shorter.
When you factor in the increased amount of commuters and commercial vehicles, it can create quite a chaotic environment. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving through January 1 is generally the time of year when there is the biggest volume of automobiles on the road.
We have decided to compile a list of some helpful tips to hopefully keep truckers sane and fully functional this holiday season.
Tip #1: Get That Routine Check
Before heading out there for your next trip, ensure that your truck is in proper working order. Especially during these cold and perhaps freezing months. Depending on what part of the country you will be traveling to. If so, here’s a quick rundown of equipment check we shared previously to help you keep trucking along safe and sound.
Tip #2: Exercise Patience During Inclement Weather
When dealing with the elements of winter, exercise extra patience. The holiday season, particularly during the winter months, is known to be accompanied by some very severe weather conditions. Here in Southern California where Sugar Creek Transportation is based it’s very uncommon to experience a freeze, ice, or snow. In other parts of the country a significant amount of snow and ice tends to accumulate during the winter months. It is not worth the risk of rollovers, jackknifes, or crashes to rush to get the task done as quickly as possible.
Truck drivers are required to leave adequate space between themselves and the cars in their immediate vicinity and to avoid tailgating. It is best to give that additional distance in deteriorated road conditions in case there is an emergency stop. During the winter, drivers should absolutely reduce their speeds, and taking one’s time is the most important piece of safety advice for truckers.
Tip #3: Be Mindful for Driver Hours of Service
A driver is not permitted to spend more than 11 hours behind the wheel in a period of 24 hours. This law was put in place to reduce the number of potential mishaps that could be attributed to a lack of sleep. In order for drivers to maintain a level of alertness and freshness while they are behind the wheel, they need to take care of themselves. This includes ensuring an adequate amount of sleep, food, and exercise on a consistent basis. The holidays can be stressful. It is always safer to avoid danger rather than put oneself or others in danger by rushing to get out there tired, distracted, and perhaps hungry.
Tip #4: Don’t Take Lane Changes for Granted
On the road, switching lanes frequently in a manner that is known as “leapfrogging” reduces safety and, in fact, increases the risk of an accident. Big rig drivers have a lot of blind areas, so it’s important to announce their intentions to other vehicles as soon as possible. This ensures that everyone on the road is aware of where they are going. Take it easy and stay in the right lane when you’re driving. It makes driving much simpler and reduces the likelihood of being involved in an accident caused by blind spots.
Tip #5: Cross Bridges with Extra Caution
The holiday season is notorious for inclement weather such as ice and snow. Ice and snow is very uncommon here in Southern California. However, in other parts of our country mother nature strikes during these winter months. When it comes to freezing, bridges are far worse than roadways. Put the brakes on, take your time crossing the bridge, and keep an eye out for black ice. Ice, specifically black ice is probably the toughest one of all to identify. Especially when you are on the road and moving along at higher speeds.
Tip #6: Monitor for Work Zones
The holidays are no exception to the rule that there is constant construction activity going on at all times of the year. When you approach a work zone, reduce your speed immediately in order to avoid a hefty traffic violation and to protect the safety of construction workers. When driving too quickly in a construction zone, a motorist puts themselves in danger of having their commercial driver’s license revoked.
Work zones have more trucks, more cars, less daylight, and poor weather. When you put them all together it can create a very chaotic commuting environment. Even if you are a seasoned driver, exercising extra caution around work zones is always a safer choice. Not only for the safety of you, and others, but also to avoid hefty traffic violations. Those work zone fines can really add up in some states.
Tip #7: Use Your Headlights When Necessary
Keeping your truck’s headlights in good working order is important for more than simply nighttime driving safety. During this time of year, there are many animals, most notably deer, that are roaming the highways a lot more frequently. Having the appropriate headlights can assist you in locating those shining eyeballs well before it is too late. Make it a habit to clean the headlights of your truck on a regular basis. This can help prevent the accumulation of snow and grime, which could obscure visibility.
Using your low beams and high beams as recommended is also something worth exercising avidly during this holiday season. Especially at nighttime, rain, or fog. Misuse of your headlights such as high beams can blind oncoming traffic and create an unnecessary accident. There are also trucks out there on the road currently that have automatic low and high-beam switching. While this may be a convenient feature to use, it’s one that you shouldn’t be heavily reliant upon.
Tip #8: Go Easy on Compression Release Engine Break (Jake Break)
The compression-release engine brake, also known as the Jake Break, will completely stop the wheels in their tracks by releasing the compressed air that is stored in the cylinders. This is a feature that should not be taken lightly or abused. Especially in ice or freezing road conditions. Using the Jake Break during inclement weather such as ice will cause your truck to slide across the road. Using the Jake Break should in fact be avoided in most cases.
Instead, if there is a need to unexpectedly stop, you should always downshift first and apply your regular brakes gently. Use the engine’s intelligent capabilities in combination with downshifting and brakes to gradually come to a stop. In most cases using this type of technique will prevent a potential collision with oncoming traffic.
The holiday season paired with inclement weather such as ice and maybe even snow can be quite chaotic for truck drivers. The pro tips we have shared in this article are intended to help you keep on trucking smoother and more efficiently during the 2022 holiday season. It’s important to be safe out there so you can make it home to friends and family during some of the biggest holidays this year such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Are you a truck driver looking for a company that will not treat you like a number? Do you want to be a part of a family instead of a company that treats you like a notch on the belt? Do you have at least two years driving experience? We are always looking for self-motivated, driven, and energetic people to join our family.