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How Drivers Can Avoid Drug and Alcohol Violations

In 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed regulations that would require state agencies to block drivers with any drug and/or alcohol violations from renewing or upgrading their commercial driver’s licenses or permits. The proposed regulations would also prevent new drivers from being issued licenses or permits. In some cases, the new rules would grant agencies the authority to downgrade a driver’s license or permit within 60 days of receiving a drug and/or alcohol violation. 

Today, a new regulation requires states to ban drivers with violations from operating commercial vehicles until the driver completes a return-to-duty process. These regulations were deemed ‘The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.’ 

From their start in January 2020 to the end of March 2021, states saw an astonishing 69,100 total drug violations and 1,552 alcohol violations. In the first three months of 2021 alone, there were 14,324 drug violations and 367 alcohol violations reported, and experts anticipate these numbers to grow with each passing year.

While the FMCSA’s Clearinghouse aims to safeguard our nation’s roadways from potentially dangerous truck drivers, some drivers fall victim to violations simply because they don’t know the new laws and regulations.

Drug and alcohol violations are on the rise

As expected, reported violations saw a 10.2% increase from 2020 to 2021. In 2021, the nation’s total number of drug violations was particularly shocking, with a total of 58,215 reported.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse broke that number down even further and found:

  • 31,085 violations involving marijuana
  • 8,765 violations involving cocaine
  • 5,082 violations involving methamphetamine

In terms of alcohol violations, the Clearinghouse saw a 26.74% increase from 2020. 

Overall, the Clearinghouse found 104,840 truck drivers with at least one violation since its start in 2020. 81,052 of the drivers are still prohibited from resuming operations, and, as of January 2022, only 13,050 of them have completed the requirements for return-to-duty eligibility.

In recent years, the FMCSA has vowed to double the number of random drug tests administered. This decree requires carriers to perform random drug tests on all of their drivers, including any contracted owner-operators. While this demand was labeled as a temporary statute, it will most likely be re-instituted again and again. The FMCSA is required by federal law to increase random drug testing by 50% if the rate of positive drug tests passes the 1% threshold. This change could cost up to $70 million for approximately 2.1 million drug tests.

6 drug and alcohol traps and how drivers can avoid them

On more than one occasion, truck drivers have violated regulations concerning drugs and alcohol because they don’t know or fully understand the law. 

Trucking professionals have found six common traps to watch for, including:

1) Sleeping/Resting in the sleeper cab after consuming alcohol.

According to the safety regulation 49 C.F.R. § 392.5, a driver is not allowed to have any alcohol in his/her/their system while having “physical control” of a commercial vehicle. The general definition of physical control is: to have immediate access to the keys and your vehicle in close proximity to you. However, the exact points of what qualifies as “physical control” are not fully specified within the regulation.  

Since the fine points of “physical control” are not defined, it is better to play on the safe side and avoid alcohol consumption while on the road. The regulation also applies when taking a 34-hour restart. So, suppose you decide to consume alcohol while you’re at home or in a lodge. In that case, we recommend storing your keys in a safe location to avoid being considered “in physical control” of your commercial vehicle.

2) Failure to proceed to a testing site immediately after testing notification.

The regulation 49 C.F.R. § 382.305 orders drivers to go to a test site immediately after receiving notice of their selection for random testing.

It is imperative to do precisely that in order to avoid receiving a violation. For example, suppose you are in the process of completing a non-driving, safety-sensitive task or function (e.g., unloading a trailer). In that case, you and your fleet manager (or someone with authority) are obligated to stop your task and ensure that you reach the designated testing site promptly. A few contingencies would not be subject to violation, but you will need to review the FMCSA’s regulations to determine them.

3) Failure to report to testing while off duty.

In reference to regulation 49 C.F.R. § 382.305, the same rules apply to drivers off duty. According to the FMCSA, drivers are subject to random drug testing while at home or on vacation. If you are selected for random testing, you must immediately proceed to the designated testing site.

Regarding random alcohol testing, the regulation does not state or require drivers to submit to testing while off duty.

4) Failure to respond to a medical review official.

A medical review officer is responsible for confirming a positive drug test that has been received from a designated laboratory. To complete the confirmation, the M.R.O. must contact the driver-in-question’s employer and ask that they notify the driver to contact the M.R.O. to discuss test results promptly. This is an opportunity for the driver to offer an explanation for the positive test results or to retrieve fax or email information to forward a copy of a prescription to the M.R.O.

5) Using medication that is prescribed to someone else.

In the event a driver tests positive for specific drugs, they would automatically be banned from operating a commercial vehicle until they follow subsequent protocol. In regards to controlled substances that are only made available by prescription from a licensed medical professional, a positive test is deemed okay. However, if a driver tests positive for a controlled substance but does not have a prescription for that substance or the prescription is expired, then they are subject to violation.

6) Legal marijuana use.

If you test positive for marijuana in a random DOT-mandated test, you will immediately be banned from professionally operating a commercial vehicle until you complete subsequent protocol. This rule also applies to legal marijuana usage and/or consumption since state laws do not have the power to overrule or void drug testing results under the FMCSA’s regulations.

Treatment resources every driver should know

If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome addiction, consider treatment through an inpatient or outpatient program.

American Addiction Treatment Centers by State

For free, confidential treatment referrals and information services any time, anywhere, visit SAMHSA’s website or call their National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

More like this:

What You Need to Know About the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

The Dangers of Distracted Driving: How You Can Help

Older Drivers: How to Stay Safe Behind the Wheel

How the Truck Parking Crisis Affects Us All

Picture this: It’s Monday morning, and you’re driving to your workplace. You arrive, only to discover that there are no more available parking spaces. Now what? Do you circle the lot hoping someone will leave and risk being late to work? Do you park in a ‘No Parking’ zone and risk being ticketed or towed?

This scenario is one that many truck drivers face on a daily basis. In fact, truck parking was the fifth largest concern in the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) 2021 Top Industry Issues poll. The persistent problem has been introduced to legislation over the years, yet there haven’t been many solutions offered to the industry.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) recently came together to pressure government agencies to prioritize fixing the parking crisis. The groups explained that the nationwide issue has been a decades-long battle that has affected driver safety, the supply chain, and carriers. In this blog, we’ll break down the top three issues caused by the parking shortage and offer ways truck drivers can combat the problem on their own.

Top 3 issues caused by the parking shortage

The increased shipping demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more trucks on the ground than ever before. The ATA and the OOIDA found that there are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers on the road and only 313,000 parking spaces available nationwide. This shortage has caused three common issues shared by truck drivers.

These issues include:

Safety Concerns

In 2019, a study found that 98% of truck drivers experience difficulty finding safe parking—this is an overwhelming 23% increase from a 2015 report. Trucking organizations have expressed concern for driver safety and well-being, stating: “When drivers are unable to find safe, authorized parking, they are stuck in a no-win situation, forced to either park in unsafe or illegal locations, or violate federal HOS regulations by continuing to search for safer, legal alternatives.”

In a recent letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the ATA and OOIDA said 70% of drivers have violated federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules due to limited parking options. With so few parking spots, drivers are frequently forced to park in unsafe and unauthorized locations, including highway shoulders, interstate entries, exit ramps, and abandoned properties. Parking in these locations poses safety risks to all motorists and makes 84% of truck drivers feel unsafe.

This parking shortage also impacts law enforcement officials. When drivers are illegally parked, police officers are faced with three options; they can 1) ignore the problem and risk getting in trouble with their superiors and jeopardize public safety. 2) ask them to relocate their rig, forcing drivers to violate HOS rules or potentially forcing fatigued drivers to risk public safety. 3) ticket the truck driver and cost hardworking individuals time and money.

The moral of the story: When truck parking is not readily available, everyone’s safety is compromised.

Time is money…

The phrase “time is money” has never been more true when it comes to truck driving. Each day, 98% of drivers struggle to find safe and legal parking and waste approximately 56 minutes of available driving time searching for it. This time spent hunting for truck parking can have profound economic impacts. According to a study done by ATRI, the 56 minutes of unproductive drive time equals around $4,600 in lost wages per year. Searching for parking also disrupts fleet productivity, which inevitably leads to supply chain issues and unhappy consumers.

…And money is time

As previously mentioned, law enforcement officers are allowed to ticket drivers of illegally parked semi-trucks. Parking violation fines vary in each state and city, but the total costs can wrack up after the initial fine compounds with potential court costs. And if the driver is ticketed multiple times, their license could be jeopardized. While this personally affects truck drivers, it also cuts into carriers’ profits and can potentially lead to a driver shortage, putting the carrier behind the competition. And if the officer asks the driver to relocate, the carrier could be exposed to fines and penalties from driver protection agencies.

So, the driver, carrier, and anyone else involved in the business feels the impact of the parking shortage.

What can drivers do to avoid parking issues?

While we can’t say for sure when the parking crisis will be resolved, we can prepare truck drivers with knowledge on how to avoid parking troubles.

4 Parking Tips for Drivers

  • Use apps, like Trucker Path. The app allows drivers to find parking on their route.
  • Plan your route from start to finish. It may also help to research all available parking along your route in case your ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work out.
  • Get an early start. Getting on the road before other drivers gives you the advantage when finding parking since your break time will be different from those who got a later start.
  • Avoid unsafe or illegal parking areas. Parking in designated truck parking areas will help keep you and other motorists safe.

More Like This:

Parking Shortage: An Unexpected Problem for Truckers

Top 10 States With the Best Roads and Highways

5 Largest Infrastructure Projects Happening Now

The Dangers of Distracted Driving: How You Can Help

Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving

It’s officially Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Throughout the month of April, different organizations unite to help drivers safely reach their destinations by encouraging them to remain focused behind the wheel. According to a recent study by the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people were fatally injured due to distracted driving. 

Distracted driving affects hundreds of people every single day. And what many people don’t know is how it can impact heavy-duty truck drivers. This Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we encourage you to put down your phone, follow the speed limit, and eliminate distractions. In this blog, we will tell you everything you need to know about distracted driving and tips on how to eliminate distractions from your daily commute.

Facts about distracted driving

While answering the phone, eating a quick snack, or jamming to your favorite song may seem harmless, they can have critical consequences when done behind the wheel. When studied, researchers found that reading a text message for five seconds while traveling at a speed of 55 mph is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Need more reasons to eliminate distractions from your drivetime? 

Here are a few facts about distracted driving:

  • A 2020 study done by the NHTSA found that 7% of all fatal crashes in 2019 were caused by or related to distracted driving.
  • Another NHTSA study found that 8% of fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes, and 14% of all police-reported traffic accidents were distraction-affected crashes. Overall, approximately 400,000 people were injured, and 2,841 people died.
  • The NHTSA reported that 1 out of every 5 people killed by a distracted driver was not in a vehicle (walking, jogging, biking, etc.) at the time of the accident.
  • The CDC found that drivers between 15 and 19 were more likely to drive distracted than drivers 20 years of age and older. And 9% of all teen drivers who died in vehicular accidents were involved in distraction-affected crashes.
  • According to the IIHS, the fatal crash rate is three times greater for teen drivers.
  • The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that driver distraction is the cause of more than 58% of crashes involving teen drivers.
  • A research study from Cambridge Mobile Telematics showed that distracted driving habits occurred in more than 36% of all trips across the United States.

The risks are even higher when a truck driver is distracted at the wheel. In fact, “distracted truck driving is more likely to result in fatalities than other types of automotive accidents.” This is because the weight and force of heavy-duty vehicles are much greater than that of a standard passenger vehicle, making them more dangerous in the event of a collision. That is why truck drivers must do their part in eliminating distractions from their drive.

3 types of distracted driving

Over the years, experts in traffic safety have classified distractions into three main categories: Cognitive, Manual, and Visual. If you’ve ever been driving and started thinking about a conversation you had earlier that day or your mental to-do list, you’ve had a cognitive distraction. By definition, a cognitive distraction is when your thoughts distract you from the task of driving. A manual distraction is when you remove your hands from the steering wheel. For example, eating a sandwich or rummaging through your bag is considered a manual distraction. A visual distraction happens when your eyes are not on the road. For instance, if you apply makeup or search for something in your vehicle, you are driving while visually distracted. 

Using your phone while driving, including texting or reading messages, combines all three categories of distractions. The University of Utah found that those who use their phones while driving are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident than undistracted drivers. The university also found that those who text and drive are comparable to people who drive with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%. For truckers, texting while driving increases your risk of crashing by 23 times, according to Virginia Technical Transportation Institute.

Tips for avoiding distractions

Now that you have all the information about distracted driving, it’s time to help put an end to it. Putting a stop to distracted driving starts with you.

Here are some tips for remaining focused while driving:

  • Don’t eat and drive. Eating will take your hands off the steering wheel and your attention away from driving. If you’re traveling and want a quick bite to eat, find somewhere safe to park and enjoy your break from driving.
  • Put your phone away. Use ‘Do Not Disturb’ or ‘Driving Mode’ to disable incoming messages, calls, and notifications. Placing your phone in your bag or glove box will also help eliminate your temptation to use it. 
  • Just focus. Avoid multitasking by setting your GPS, picking out your music, and making calls or sending texts before you start driving.
  • Keep your music low. Loud music could prevent you from hearing emergency vehicles and CB warnings.
  • Properly secure your belongings. Items falling throughout the vehicle could distract you from the road ahead. Before you take off, secure loose objects and belongings properly.
  • Get plenty of rest. Being tired could cause you to be unalert or fall asleep behind the wheel.

Observe Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Observe Distracted Driving Awareness Month by:

  • Taking the pledge to end distracted driving.
  • Supporting campaigns developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Safety Council, as well as state, county, and local law enforcement agencies.

Using the hashtag #DistractedDrivingAwarenessMonth when posting on social media this month.

For more articles about driver safety, click here!

5 Ways Truck Drivers Can Avoid Heart Disease

Spreading Heart-Health Awareness This American Heart Month

Question: What’s the leading cause of death in the United States of America and claims more than 650,000 lives each year? The answer: heart disease. 

Luckily, research and new technology have given medical professionals the tools to know more about the condition, prevent it, and treat it quicker than ever before. Despite the extraordinary progress that’s been made, there’s still more that can be done.

This American Heart Month, we celebrate by sharing information regarding the prevention of heart disease to eradicate the illness further. In this article, we will go over heart disease and discuss the top five ways truck drivers can avoid it.

What are the different types of heart disease?

Heart disease is a general term referring to any condition that affects one’s cardiovascular system. Overall, the disease comes in several variations, and they all can have severe impacts on the body.

Different types of heart disease include:

  • Coronary Artery Disease: Coronary artery disease (also known as coronary heart disease) develops when the blood supply to the heart becomes clogged. It is known as the most common type of heart disease. 
  • Congenital Heart Defects: Those with a congenital heart defect are born with it. There are three main types of defects, including atypical heart valves, septal defects, and atresia.
  • Arrhythmia: An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat that occurs when the electrical impulses controlling one’s heartbeat make it beat incorrectly. The variations of arrhythmias include tachycardia, bradycardia, premature contractions, and atrial fibrillation.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy: A dilated cardiomyopathy is when the heart chambers become enlarged, and it is often caused by arrhythmias, genetics, past heart attacks, and toxins.   
  • Myocardial Infarction: A myocardial infarction (also known as a heart attack) is caused by an interruption of blood flow to the heart, which in turn causes damage to the muscle.
  • Heart Failure: Heart failure is the slow deterioration of one’s heart due to untreated arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and other health conditions.
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: This condition affects the heart muscle by thickening the walls of the heart and making regular contractions more difficult, thus affecting the heart’s ability to circulate blood to the body. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy commonly develops from inherited genetic issues and conditions. 
  • Mitral Valve Regurgitation: Mitral valve regurgitation happens when the heart’s mitral valve does not close properly, and blood flows back into the heart.
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse: A mitral valve prolapse is caused by the heart’s valve flaps not closing correctly and pushing into the left atrium.
  • Aortic Stenosis: An aortic stenosis happens when the pulmonary valve becomes thick or fuses, preventing it from opening correctly making it harder for the heart to pump blood.

5 Ways Truck Drivers Can Avoid Heart Disease

It’s no secret that most truck drivers are forced into a lifestyle that puts them at a greater risk for health conditions, including heart disease. The main factors contributing to this high risk for heart disease are poor sleep, smoking, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and high-stress levels.  

Luckily, truck drivers can significantly reduce their risk and live long and prosperous lives by implementing a few healthy habits.

1. Get your rest.

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to your well-being, especially your heart health. Unfortunately, a full eight hours is not always possible for America’s truck drivers. However, science has proven that adults who regularly get less than seven hours of sleep per night are at a greater risk for conditions such as heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

To help truck drivers get the best sleep possible, we recommend:

  1. Parking your rig in a safe and quiet area
  2. Blocking out as much light as possible with curtains or shades
  3. Use an eye mask and earplugs to help block out irritants

2. Quit smoking.

For years, we’ve seen numerous warnings about smoking and the damaging effects it can have on one’s health. A recent study showed that 51% of truck drivers smoke cigarettes, thus increasing their risk for heart disease by four times. Smoking cigarettes also increases the chances of dying from heart disease by three times. Fortunately, there are many ways to help break this unhealthy habit, including nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation hypnosis, and all can be done while on the road.

3. Follow a healthy diet.

Working as a truck driver means long hours on the road with few opportunities for a healthy meal. You can make subtle changes to your diet by stocking your rig with healthy snack options.

These options include:

  • Fruit
  • Granola bars
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Hummus with veggies or crackers
  • Nuts

When you stop at a fast-food restaurant for a full meal, opt for one of the healthier options, including salads, protein wraps, or sandwiches.

4. Get regular exercise.

A lack of exercise can increase your risk of severe health conditions, including diabetes, weight gain, certain cancers, and heart disease. To avoid these health concerns, try to exercise several times a day for three to 10 minutes. This can be done before you start your day, during your breaks, or after you’ve finished your day. It’s essential not to overexert yourself and to start slow. In the beginning, stretch, squat, and walk your way to health for at least 12 minutes a day.

5. Manage your stress levels.

As many can imagine, stress and anxiety can put a strain on your mind, body, and soul. Those who experience frequent high levels of stress are more likely to experience heart disease.

To reduce stress, try these techniques:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Visualization
  • Stretching

For more information on American Heart Month and heart disease, visit heart.org!

Top 10 States With the Best Roads and Highways

Throughout our country’s history, transportation has fueled our development and economic growth and gotten us to where we are today. Every day, all across America, truck drivers travel across our country’s roads, highways, and bridges to deliver goods and keep our nation running. Through modern technology, transportation experts can track the movement of products and determine metrics regarding driver’s commute times and road and bridge quality. Once this data is measured, combined with ratings from drivers and government funding info, experts can determine which states have some of the best roads and highways in the country.

-> How to Keep Your Truck on the Road

For truck drivers, the quality of infrastructure is crucial. It plays an essential role in the longevity of the rig and the driver’s safety, and damaged or unkempt roadways can lead to damaged products, accidents, unnecessary vehicle repairs, and more. States with little funding for infrastructure unfortunately suffer the most. However, in some states, drivers don’t have to worry so much about the pavement they drive on.

Which states have the best roads and highways?

The top 10 states with the best roads and highways include:

#1. Kansas

Thanks to its recent funding increase and overall improvements, the great state of Kansas lands at the top of our list. Those fortunate enough to drive through the state agree that the streets are safe, clean, and perfectly resurfaced.

#2. Alabama

When the Rebuild Alabama Act was passed in 2019, the state worked to better its roads and highways. The roadways were widened and repaved after years of wear. Now, travelers have noticed improved traffic. And with less traffic comes more Southern hospitality.

#3. North Dakota

In North Dakota, the interstates are perfectly paved, the urban roads are cared for, and only 2% of the rural roads are considered to be in need of a facelift. For these reasons, plus their absolute cleanliness, it sits at the number three spot on our list!

#4. Kentucky

Approximately 86% of Kentucky’s roadway budget goes towards road maintenance, meaning the highways are almost always in good condition. And like North Dakota, the state’s urban roads are well kept, and only 2% of the rural roads could be considered poor. Besides that, drivers will experience clean roads and sound traffic systems that promptly help them get to where they’re going.

#5. Florida

Coming in at number five is the sunshine state, Florida. The state’s overall infrastructure rating is one of the country’s best, with 71% of the urban roads and 88% of the rural roads in top-notch shape. The state has also implemented several new lanes, roundabouts, turning lanes, and four-way stops to assist traffic flow and safety. Plus, you never have to worry about driving in the snow

Image Credit: Consumer Affairs

#6. Idaho

Across Idaho, the clean and orderly roads are well used by travelers and residents, but they are equally well maintained. Drivers commend the state’s easy-to-understand north-south, east-west directions and the lack of potholes.

#7. New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s roads and highways are in good condition, with 4% of rural roads and 10% of urban roads in the category of ‘needs improvement.’ Those who frequent the state’s roadways describe them as well-maintained and easily navigable with good signage. 

#8. Georgia

Georgia’s various roads and highways are described as smooth, wide, and clean. Thanks to the current SPLOST tax credit, the state continues to make repairs and expand its roadways, only further improving traffic flow.

#9. Nevada

When it comes to quality infrastructure, Nevada isn’t doing too bad. Approximately 8% of the urban roads need improvement, but 100% of the rural roads surveyed are in good condition. Older streets are constantly refreshed and kept smooth as the state continues to expand.

#10. Vermont

At our 10th spot is the scenic state of Vermont. While there are definite areas in need of improvement, the state’s roadways are safe and in good condition. However, many drivers agree that the state could upgrade its traffic standards.

How to get started as an owner operator

So, when it comes to choosing where you want to drive (assuming you have the choice), we recommend you start with one of these 10 states. You and your semi-truck will thank you. If you’re just getting started in the industry, check out one of our helpful resources below!

Buying vs. Leasing a Semi-Truck: An Owner Operator’s Guide

6 Tips for Starting Your Own Trucking Business

Top 10 Truck Driving Jobs

6 Tips for Driving a Semi-Truck in Winter

It’s no secret that icy and snow-covered roads can have severe and often unpredictable impacts on traffic conditions. When these winter months roll in, heavy-duty drivers face dangerous and demanding routes, especially when they’re not prepared. Along with winterizing your truck, refreshing your wintery driving skills is crucial for surviving the frozen season. 

When drivers are faced with a winter storm, icy roads, or other frosty conditions, it’s always better to play it safe. Things like taking your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a thorough check-up or building an emergency kit can genuinely be a lifesaver. However, there are other ways to stay safe while driving your semi this winter. 

In this article, we’ll go over our top 6 tips and tricks for driving a semi-truck safely in the winter.

1. Drive cautiously

When driving on ice- or snow-covered roads, it’s essential to take your time and drive cautiously. If you’re out of practice when it comes to driving in the winter, move slowly and pay attention to the capabilities of your vehicle. For instance, if your semi rides low, it won’t handle snow accumulation well, so it’s best to take it slow to prevent build-up. It’s vital to execute control and deliberate actions when navigating wintery road conditions. Sharp curves, rushed acceleration, and fast braking all result in decreased traction, leading to an accident. Stay alert and maintain a consistent speed while leaving enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. The safe amount of space will also help you when you need to use your brake. 

2. Stock up on essentials

With inclement weather being so unpredictable, you must always have the essentials with you. This way, if you get stranded in the middle of these harsh climatic conditions, you will be prepared and safe.

Your emergency kit should include:

  • Tire chains
  • Spare fuel
  • An extra fuel filter and wrench
  • Coolant, washer fluid, and oil
  • Vinegar
  • A flare gun
  • Flares
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • A CB radio (if one is not already in your cab)
  • A first aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Hats, scarves, and gloves
  • Snow boots
  • Snow shovel
  • Canned food and bottled water

We also recommend a few bags of cat litter. This unique emergency item can be used as a safe and eco-friendly way to regain traction if your tires get stuck on a patch of ice. Simply throw some litter under your tires, slowly engage your accelerator, and wait for your tires to do the rest.

3. Use your signals

This may seem like a no-brainer, but using your signals can be the difference between a safe ride and a preventable accident. The general rule of thumb is three blinks before changing lanes, but when the weather outside is frightful, stay safe and use five blinks before moving over. It would help if you also used your signals before turning. To give those driving behind you plenty of notice, be sure to activate your signal before you begin slowing down for your turn.

If the weather is too extreme for your comfort level, use your four-way hazard signals and move to the passing lane to allow those around you to pass. Hopefully, doing so will encourage other drivers to exercise caution and prevent a pileup from happening.

4. Let your truck warm up

When the temperatures drop below freezing, it can be hard on your semi’s heavy-duty diesel engine. So, it’s essential to allow your truck time to warm up before taking off on your route. This will prevent your engine from refusing to turn over and promote longevity past the winter months. 

Pro Tip: While your rig warms up, turn on your defroster and let your windshield unfreeze itself. Two birds, one stone. 

5. Be cognizant

As well as driving cautiously, you as a driver should be extra cognizant of those around you while driving through frosty weather. For example, water coming off another vehicle’s tires could indicate just how treacherous the roadways are. If there is a lot of water, the roads are wet, but the streets are freezing over if there is less spray. You should also pay close attention to the streets for black ice.

6. Check your tires, fuel, and lights

Perhaps the most crucial tip happens before you hit the road: check your tires, fuel, and lights. Regardless of the season, truck drivers should be inspecting their tires regularly. However, as the weather grows colder, your tires will need to be examined even more than usual. If your tires are underinflated, damaged, or worn out, it could lead to troubles on the road, such as low traction.

Checking your fuel is another crucial step to staying safe. By keeping your fuel tank filled, you will give extra weight to your rig, which will ultimately help your tires retain traction and stay on the road.

Once you stop for the day, be sure to check and clean your headlights, taillights, and license plate since they will more than likely be covered in a mixture of dirt and snow. For semi-trucks, your lights need to be as visible as possible, meaning your lights need to be clean and functioning correctly.

Want more information like this? Check out these articles:

Tips for Preparing Your Semi-Truck for Summer

How to Stay Safe in Harsh Winter Conditions

7 Crucial Tips for Truck Tire Maintenance and Repair

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