The summer season may seem like it’s a breeze for flatbed and CDL drivers. Gone are the dangerous, icy road conditions that come with winter and no more driving with the constant threat of spring thunderstorms. Driving in the summertime, like it is for the rest of the world, should be like sipping lemonade or relaxing at the lake.
Summer, however, can present some dangerous risks for truck drivers that may come as a surprise to those new to the profession. But with the right know-how and preparation, drivers can keep working safely and effectively all summer long.
Check the Weather Ahead
Let’s start with the most obvious. This is something you probably already practice to prepare for the aforementioned icy roads and spring thunderstorm threat. But it bears repeating to re-emphasize keeping your weather guard up during the summer as well.
This season is known for pop up thunderstorms that can come without warning, leaving you in a precarious position if unprepared. Extreme heat can also wear down you and your vehicle.
Be prepared by continuously monitoring the weather leading up to your drive, and tune in to radio stations who are known for providing consistent weather alerts. It’s also a good idea to put weather alerts on your phone from a reliable weather service or a local news meteorologist, but of course only use when you aren’t driving.
Look for Construction Zones
More road work is done during the summer than other months because, again, the aforementioned icy winter roads and spring thunderstorms. This, though, is an added challenge to flatbed and CDL drivers.
Don’t let yourself get into so much of a hurry that you feel tempted to speed through these zones, risking the lives of road workers and a hefty citation for you. Instead, monitor road work on the route you plan to take and give yourself some extra drive time. It’s not always possible, but the more time cushion you can give yourself, the less likely you’ll be to compromise safety with speed.
There are several apps you can use to monitor traffic conditions, many of which will provide alternate routes to save you time. The Tennessee Department of Transportation provides a real time look at traffic conditions with cameras placed at various spots along interstates and highways.
Check the Condition of Your Truck
While there’s less threat of an accident from a weather event during the summer, extreme heat can be brutal on your truck. High temperatures can cause your engine to overheat as well as cause many of the components in your vehicle to break down more easily.
If the weather forecast is warning of unusually high temperatures, be sure your truck has plenty of coolant and the AC is working correctly. The last thing you want is to be in a blistering hot truck with only the window keeping you cool.
Also, be sure to check the air pressure in your tires as extreme heat can cause them to blow out more easily. Your brakes can deteriorate under the summer sun as well, so inspect them as often as possible.
Be Patient with Increased Cars on the Road
Summer is vacation time for many American families, which means more cars on the interstates for you to maneuver around.
Knowing some congestion spots on your commute could save you from having to add some change to the swear jar and knowing alternate routes or using an app like Waze can give you a faster route in real time.
However, taking a moment to recognize the need for patience before you even open the driver side door to begin your trip will go a long way toward enjoying your day on the road.
Take Care of Yourself
High temperatures will zap your energy and leave you tired and dehydrated faster than you realize. Even behind the wheel, summer heat will leave you reaching for an ice bath and a Gatorade.
The easiest way to stay ahead of this is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink fluids even when it doesn’t seem like you need them. Pay attention to your body and take breaks when you need them. Keep some ice in a cooler to cool you down at a moment’s notice.
Wear Sunglasses and Sunscreen
During the summer, the sun can feel like it’s about six inches from your face. The same is true for flatbed and CDL truck drivers who, depending on the time of day and direction, could spend an entire afternoon and evening driving into a July sunset.
Harmful UV rays can penetrate windows, so be sure to keep sunscreen and a quality pair of sunglasses handy to protect your eyes and skin. The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Keep It Clean
It’s been the subject of cheesy road trip comedies for decades, but summer bugs splattered across your windshield is a real problem for flatbed and CDL drivers. Increased dust and dirt can also leave your truck looking like a mess during the summer season.
Spend some extra time washing your vehicle while at the same time inspecting areas like windshield wipers and washer fluid. Also, keep disinfectant wipes handy for a quick clean of your truck’s cab.
Truck Driver Jobs at a Transportation Company in East Tennessee
With the right preparation, skills, and support, flatbed and CDL drivers are enjoying safe, thriving careers no matter the season.
Are you ready to start a career with high pay and great benefits with a supportive, empowering company? Roane Transportation is a transportation company in East Tennessee, and we are always looking to hire passionate, dedicated flatbed trucking drivers. Currently, our top areas we need to hire for are East TN; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; and Charlotte, NC. We offer industry leading pay and excellent benefits to all of our truck drivers, plus guaranteed weekly home time. Our equipment is state-of-the-art to ensure the safety of our drivers and the loads they carry. With our national, regional, and local fleets, you are sure to find the perfect fit with our company. If you are interested in becoming a part of our flatbed trucking team, give us a call today at 865-354-3288 or apply online.