Winter is the most dangerous time for most drivers to be on the road no matter what you drive. With flatbed truckers, the danger level gets amplified considerably. Rain, sleet, snow, fog, wind, and other types of inclement weather during the winter can make the most well-maintained roads impassable for even the most seasoned truck drivers.
Along with winter maintenance issues like gelling diesel fuel, frozen water in fuel lines, and a reduced fuel economy, winter driving can make flatbed trucking seem downright overwhelming.
However, the prospect of lost revenue because of winter weather may seem more overwhelming than sitting at home due to cold temperatures. Rather than risk losing income, it’s important to empower yourself with as much knowledge as possible so you know how to stay safe on the road.
To get you started, here are some driving tips for flatbed truckers this winter season.
Items to have on hand
Picture yourself in frigid cold weather, sitting on the side of the road, waiting for help to arrive. Or envision yourself at a rest stop adjusting the straps on your tarping while freezing rain pelts your hands and checks. At that moment, what piece of equipment would you wish you’d had on hand in your truck?
Along with items like a hat and gloves to keep you warm, there are several tools to have on hand that could help prevent a difficult situation from becoming much worse.
Heavy-Duty Tool Box
A flatbed truck driver should never hit the road without a sturdy toolbox for your emergency tools. During the winter, it’s worth carrying the extra weight to have a second toolbox to store tarps, bungee cords, and extra tools you may need for inclement weather. This may seem like you’re overdoing it, but it can make all the difference during an emergency.
With fewer daylight hours during the winter, you may find yourself unloading or reloading your truck after dark. That’s why it’s smart to carry a good collection of work lights to keep you safe while moving heavy cargo.
Trailer stabilizer dolly
Slippery road conditions from ice and snow can make parking dangerous for any driver, but it’s especially treacherous for a flatbed truck driver. A trailer stabilizer dolly can help stabilize your vehicle on icy, uneven freight yards.
Air brake tubing
Frigid temperatures can be brutal for an air brake hose, causing a very unsafe situation for drivers. Be sure to include plenty of air brake tubing in case an emergency brake repair situation is necessary.
You can’t be too careful when it comes to increased visibility during winter weather. That’s why it’s important to keep beacon lights on hand to place strategically around your truck.
Tarping for winter weather
Tarping is an essential part of being a flatbed truck driver, and it’s most important during the winter. That’s why you need to always have a wide range of tarp shapes and sizes available on your truck to be sure you have the exact tarp you need to protect your cargo. These are a few tips to remember for tarping during the winter months, which can be much more difficult than at any other time of year.
Warm tarps in your cab
Warm tarps are much easier to use and less prone to tearing than ones left in the cold, so bring your tarps in the cab before you try to stretch them over your freight.
Check D-rings and grommets regularly
Grommets and d-rings are especially vulnerable to wear and tear from road salt, so be sure to check them regularly throughout your trip to be sure they are secure. Even a small amount of damage can be amplified during the winter months, so take a tarp with damage out of use until it can be repaired or replaced.
Watch out for voids
Water pools in voids in your tarps, which can freeze, tear and create holes. Never allow any voids where moisture can collect on your tarps, especially when it’s cold.
Use rubber-tipped gloves
These are especially useful in cold temperatures. The rubber fingertips on these gloves make it easier to grip cold canvas and vinyl, even if they are covered in ice.
Dressing for winter driving
There are few feelings on Earth worse than being out in cold without proper clothing for the weather. Whether you’re driving a short distance or you’ll be on the road for a while, you never want to be in a situation where you’re making an emergency repair and it’s difficult to be outside because you don’t have the necessary gear.
An adequately prepared flatbed truck driver should always be dressed in gear like insulated waterproof coveralls, well-insulated work boots or hiking boots, and snug fit gloves.
Truck Driver Jobs at a Transportation Company in East Tennessee
Operating a flatbed truck during the winter season is a difficult challenge for even the most experienced drivers. However, with the right preparation, skills, and support, flatbed and CDL drivers can stay safe out on the road no matter the weather or road conditions.
If you’re ready to start a career with high pay and great benefits with a supportive, empowering company, then Roane Transportation is right for you. We’re 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 Tennessee, Nashville, Atlanta, and Charlotte. 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.