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How to Keep Trucks Moving in Severe Weather

“Be Prepared” is one of the best ways to keep trucks moving and safe when bad weather threatens.

Drivers can check the forecast in their area and route before heading out. The Weather Channel’s features let drivers input cities and zip codes and see real-time radar and weather predictions. The National Weather Service severe weather classifications include storm watches and storm warnings—valuable tools for determining how close the storm is and if you should consider a different route.

If you think your planned path will lead you into a storm, look for ways to re-route it so you won’t get caught in the middle. It’s helpful to note the counties you’ll be driving through since radio weather services will call out warnings by county.

Here are some tips to help keep trucks moving as you navigate hazards in the coming summer months:

Heavy winds turn semis into sailboats on the highway. Gusts can catch the tall, long sides of the trailer and push the truck around, leading to swerving, accidents, and even roll-overs. Trucks with light loads or no load are especially susceptible to problems. To help keep trucks moving and stop this problem, check the weather forecast before heading out and be aware of possible difficulties en route.

Also, double-check doors and secure loads. Keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road and pay close attention to the way your truck is moving and everything around you (trees and foliage beside the road and road signs will all show wind direction and movement). Keep your speed low, hazard lights on, and your hands on the wheel to steady your truck. If you can, stay in the right lane to avoid knocking into another vehicle. 

Unpredictable heavy rain makes all roads slippery and can reduce visibility to near zero. For safety, check ahead to see possible road closures due to flooding and plan stopping points if the rain becomes too heavy. And please: Avoid phone alerts, intrusive music, or anything else that will take your attention off the road. To keep trucks moving, you’ll want to increase stopping and following distances, reduce speed, slow down around curves and in heavy traffic, turn on your headlights, and avoid—or slow down for–water pooled across the roadway. You may also encounter a flash flood warning—which means there’s a possibility of rapid flooding of rivers, streams, and low-lying land or covered or blocked roads.

Heavy rain affects your traction, too, so there’s a risk of hydroplaning or jack-knifing your trailer during downpours. Every action should be slow and gradual to avoid losing control of the truck. Furthermore, it’s best to avoid using cruise control or the Jake brake.

A tornado watch can remain in effect for hours, only escalating to a tornado warning when the tornado has been spotted in person or sighted on radar. Drivers should never try to outrun a tornado, whichcan instantly change directions. If you can’t get indoors, your next-best-case scenario is to leave your truck and find a ditch, culvert, or ravine away from other vehicles—anywhere but under a bridge. Forced to stay in your truck? Leave your seat belt on and keep the truck running to activate airbags. Make sure you are as low as you can be in the seat and cover your head with a coat or blanket.

Heavy fog is challenging to forecast and even more difficult to navigate. In this case, it’s best to find a safe place to pull off the road, like a rest stop or a gas station. If you must drive, slow down to ease stopping for an accident or a slower vehicle. And keep in mind that fog is notoriously “ghostly”: Motorists may not be able to make out your truck’s exact shape or location but can see your flashers. Your headlights will help them see your location, too. Keep a constant watch for slow or stopped vehicles to keep trucks moving.

Hail can damage your truck’s body and make it hard to see. It’s best to pull off the highway onto the shoulder or into a truck stop and angle your windshield away from the hail to avoid damage.

And keep in mind that with lightning striking, you may be driving the tallest metal object around and are a potential target. Remember to stay away from fuel pumps if you’re outside during a lightning storm.

Preparing for your trip, paying attention, and using common sense can help you navigate hazards to keep trucks moving. We wish you safe travels. The Axele TMS integrates with load boards, ELDs, Market Rates, Maps, Accounting Systems, and everything you need to run your business easily. As the Connected TMS, Axele also integrates with weather reports so dispatchers can take into account any upcoming weather events that might affect the trip plan. Contact Axele today to keep trucks moving.

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