Spring is here…almost. Time for some spring driving safety tips.
It was the first time I’d seen a “Watch for Ice” sign in front of a row of palm trees. That made me think about the broad weather extremes we encounter as professional drivers.
After a long, rough winter with more than enough heavy snow, treacherous ice and severe winds across the country, it seems things are finally easing up. Even with nicer weather being more ‘the norm’, there are plenty of things to consider when driving in the spring.
Spring is when we see some fast-moving, wet and often, violent storms blow across the nation, bringing plenty of snow and icy conditions. Here are some spring driving safety tips.
How do you tell if the roads are icy?
Watch for “road spray” from other vehicles. If they aren’t kicking up mist and the road looks wet, it’s probably frozen. You can also look for ice on your mirrors & antenna. If they are freezing up, so is the road. Moisture on road surfaces can freeze even when the outside temperature is 34-35, if the road surface is cooler than that.
It doesn’t take much ice to make you slide, losing control of the vehicle and making a really bad end to your day.
Slow Down for Ice & Winds
It has been super windy this last winter and will probably continue like that well into the summer. If you have a light trailer, obviously, be very cautious. But strong winds can blow a heavy truck over, too.
Even if the wind doesn’t cause a truck to literally blow over, it can cause the trailer to run off the side of the pavement or the truck to break traction on slick roads, leading to a crash.
Wildlife Along the Roads
The warmer weather seems to bring plenty of wild animals nearer to the highways. The ground next to a paved surface warms faster on sunny days, causing early plant growth, which foraging animals love to nibble on. Needless to say, this can present big problems for drivers.
Female deer can fawn (have their babies) as early as February and on into July. When pregnant, they graze more and move slower.
Wildlife seem to be more active around the highways near twilight and dawn. Still, I’ve seen plenty of them during the day & middle of the night. Be alert.
If you do happen to find a wild animal right in front of your vehicle as you’re cruising down the highway, your BEST chance is to hang on to the steering wheel with both hands as you decelerate and keep your vehicle straight. Swerving to avoid an animal at the last second has led to many a driver’s death, and in some cases, the big rig taking out another vehicle beside them.
Yes, hitting a deer or other large animal may total out your truck’s front end. But you will probably be unharmed, where as flipping your truck will have you in the hospital (or worse) in a hurry. I don’t know anyone who’s lost their job for hitting a deer – but crash a truck and it’s a different story.
A Few Other Thoughts On Spring Driving Safety
This is a great time to check your vehicle’s air conditioning system to make sure it’s charged and cooling well. You’re going to need it any day now.
As always, pay attention to the condition of your tires to make sure they’re in shape for warmer weather. Look for wear and signs of tire rot.
Pack some shorts for those warm, sunny days and enjoy the spring! It’s one of my favorite times of the year.