10 Autumn Driving Safety Tips for Truckers
by Lyn Leoncito
Autumn is one season closer to winter. It is characterized by breathtaking foliage, shorter day time, shedding leaves of deciduous plants, farm harvests, and many holidays, including Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Also called the fall season, autumn is one of the busiest seasons for the trucking industry. It is the time when shops and supermarkets are stocking up on goods for the winter and the upcoming big celebrations. As much as truckers want to help meet the demands of customers all over the country, trucking and driving safety should always come first.
The best and responsible truckers are ready for every season and the seasonal transitions in between. But since autumn brings unique driving hazards, there are also driving tips that should be particularly observed during this season. Below are some tips that will help truckers like you navigate the road safely this fall and transition smoothly into winter:
Beware of the leaves on the road.
Any road debris poses problems for truckers, let alone wet leaves that stick to the pavements, making them slippery. The leaves can also conceal potholes, bumps, ice, and other hazards that can cause hydroplaning and other road accidents.
Taking a corner that’s full of wet leaves at the same speed as you do on dry pavement can cause the tires to slip. Even dry leaves are hazardous as they reduce traction between the tire and the road. Also, a pile of leaves raked to the roadside seems like an inviting place to a child.
If you notice leaf patches or piles of leaves on the road, slow down and never drive through them. Drive past the area with caution. Avoid abrupt swerving or braking as it can cause the tires of your truck to slide uncontrollably. After safely passing through the spot, it is wise to alert local authorities or highway patrol as they can address these potential hazards appropriately.
Watch out for the wildlife.
During autumn, deer are more active as it is their mating season. And they are a problem to drivers during the dusk or dawn. To stay safe, avoid driving beyond the reach of your headlights and do not ignore deer crossing signs. Be on the lookout for deer eyeshine caused by the headlights, and when you spot one in front of your truck, don’t swerve as it may jackknife your big rig or cause it to rollover. Drive a bit slower in places where wildlife abounds and is more active, and always keep a watchful eye on both sides of the road.
Adjust for shorter days.
Fall is the time of the year when we have shorter days. It could mean more traveling time at dusk or nighttime, especially for long-haul drivers. Get yourself and your truck ready for longer nights by checking your headlights and taillights, making sure they are all operational. It is also wise to increase your following distance and pass over slowly and when it is safe.
Be prepared for weather changes.
In most places, autumn is characterized by damp surroundings due to heavy rains or thick fog. Don’t let changes in the weather catch you off guard. It always pays to be prepared for any weather you’ll encounter while on long-haul drives. Get your rig ready by checking its windshield wiper for signs of damage. Make sure they can clear pouring rain off your windshield. When you notice thick fog setting in while you’re driving, set your headlight to low beam so that the beam of light is directed towards the road.
As the temperature drops, frosted windshields in the morning will become a commonplace. Make time to clear frost off your truck’s windshields, wipers, mirrors, and other components before heading out to fulfill your delivery schedule for the day. Frost may also form on the roadways, resulting in a slick driving surface and posing a hazardous driving situation to truckers. On frosty mornings, drive slowly, especially on bridges and overpasses. Also, be mindful of the shaded spots on the road where black ice forms. It is an excellent decision to check the weather forecast and reports before heading out for a long drive.
Gear up for the bright sun.
Autumn sunrises and sunsets can be very bright. The amount of sunlight in the daytime also produces so much glare, making it difficult for truckers to see other vehicles and the roadway ahead or around the truck. Wearing sunglasses and putting the sun visors down reduce the glare and the danger associated with it. Keep a pair of sunglasses on your truck and make sure your windshield is clean.
Expect more traffic.
The holidays during the fall and the coming of the winter season have a significant impact on the trucking industry. As the industry tries to meet the demands of millions of stores and customers all over the United States, there comes an influx of newbie drivers. This can’t be avoided, so you had better stay alert for less-skilled drivers when hitting the road this season.
The roads and highways can also be jammed by autumn vacationers and people visiting their loved ones during the holidays. Be sure to take that into consideration. Since the kids are already back in school, you also need to keep an eye out for school buses and coaches. Drive with care when approaching or running beside a school service. A responsible truck driver also keeps an eye out for children walking to and from school.
Keep an eye out for tractors and harvest equipment.
In the US, fall is synonymous with harvest season. During this time, farmers need to transport their crops from the farm to the market or their storeroom and get their fields ready for the next planting season. Always be mindful of combines, tractors, trailers, and other farming equipment on the road. Agricultural equipment and machinery normally run slow, and you need to maintain ample space when you are tailing them.
While it is inconvenient on your part to creep along behind these slow-moving vehicles and machinery, you’ve got to have more patience until you get a chance to pass. Always double check your surroundings and only overtake once you’re sure that it is safe to do so.
Plan your trips.
Before heading out to deliver goods, it is a must that you plan your trips. Let’s say you’re heading east, make sure to consolidate all the deliveries to that location and accomplish them in one go. The night before your trip, research the cities and states you’ll make deliveries to and the places you’ll pass by. Check the weather forecast so you could prepare yourself and your truck. The United States is such a huge country, and the weather conditions vary drastically from one state to another. It is beneficial if you know what’s waiting for you along the way.
Be ready for the winter.
When it’s fall, it means that winter is just around the corner. After only a few weeks, the entire country will start to feel the chill brought by the coldest season of the year. Don’t wait for the first snowfall of the year before getting your truck ready for the wintertime. During autumn, it is wise to check your trucks maintenance schedule, and be sure to stick to it to avoid costly repairs in the future.