10 Winter Driving Tips from Smith Transport

December 22, 2015 9:17 am Published by Comment

Traditionally, wintertime means big jackets, snow fights, snow days, and the holiday decorations. But for professional drivers, there’s one more thing that comes to mind: winter driving. The frosty season brings a set of unfavorable driving conditions. Even for the most experienced truck drivers, winter can present a relatively icy and potentially dangerous situation. As Jack Frost begins to make his presence felt, take a look at these 10 winter truck driving tips from Smith Transport to help keep you and others safe.

1. Ice Ice Baby

Ice-skating, ice sculptures, and ice cream: we love these forms of ice, but not on the road.

Since you can remember, you have been taught that water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius and 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you won’t have to look at a thermometer to know if ice is on the road. If there’s ice on your windshield, more than likely that means that there’s ice on the road. Think ahead to make preparations before you hit the road.

2. Treat Your Diesel

Keep in mind that your diesel will turn into a gel when it gets down in the low temperatures. When your diesel solidifies into gel, your truck will not run. The best practice is to treat your diesel with an anti-gel additive before you put fuel into the truck so that it will effectively mix.

Another best practice is to go ahead and stock up at your local automotive store so you won’t have to risk the truck stop being out.

3. Keep It Steady

When there is ice on the road, the traction is drastically reduced. However, you can make up for the lack of traction by driving slower, following other vehicles at a greater distance, and making your changes more gently. In addition, you will have much more time to react if you are traveling at a slower speed.

4. Slow Your Roll

With driving slower in mind, pay special attention to making abrupt stops and starts when there is ice on the road. In cases where you must slow down, it’s better to lightly pulse your brakes with the ball of your foot. This practice will help prevent your brakes from locking up and losing control. 

5. Carry a Winter Driving Kit

One of the best practices is to always be prepared, and your winter driving kit is your first step toward preparation. Here are a few key items you should have in your kit:

  • Extra gloves and warm / rainy weather clothing
  • Flashlight, batteries, and vacuum sealed food for longevity
  • A First-Aid kit
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • A bag of salt or sand
  • Jumper cables
  • Traction mats or tire chains

6. Conduct Pre-Trip Checkups

We always encourage pre-trip checkups before drivers hit the road. If you take a few minutes before each trip to ensure your truck is in the best possible condition, you’ll feel reassured knowing you checked the equipment. The outcome of safer roads and reduced chance of technical problems is well worth it, especially during the colder months.

7. Follow but Don’t Ride

As a truck driver, you should always leave a little extra room to maneuver if the driver in front of you makes a sudden erratic movement. When the roads are icy, those erratic movements are multiplied. In effect, you should increase your following distance to 8 – 10 seconds.

8. Spray Means No Ice

You can also pay attention to the type of precipitation that’s coming off other drivers’ vehicles. When spray is coming off of their tires that means the road isn’t iced over. However, wet roads also present their own set of hazards so be cautious.

9. Monitor the Warning Signs

Nothing screams danger for drivers more than others ahead of you pulled off to the median or shoulder in bad weather. When you see this, you should also pull off the road. You know the phrase: better safe than sorry!

You can also use your mobile device to look up weather maps. *Only use a handheld device when your truck is stopped.*

10. Talk About It

Fortunately, as a Smith Transport driver, you are connected to a large network of drivers who are willing to provide the road conditions. You should take advantage of this benefit at every chance you get. Ask other fellows at truck stops, too.


Ready to drive equipment that’s second to none, be part of an elite fleet, and develop personal relationships with colleagues rather than being “just a number”? If so, Smith Transport is the perfect home for your talents as a professional driver. Driving for Smith means having job security, respect and choices. Visit smithdrivers.com to learn more and get in touch with our recruiters at smith-recruiting@smithtransport.com or 866-265-3718. If you’re ready to apply now, just click here!

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