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A Blog of Snow and Ice - Winter Driving Safety Tips
13.02.2020 Collision Avoidance,Fleet Safety
Dealing with the inclement weather and often severe cold of winter can be a serious challenge even for experienced drivers. However, there are steps you can take to make things easier:
1. De-icing – Lack of visibility is a major danger at any time and winter weather can be particularly dangerous. It can rain in the summer but there is no danger of water or snow freezing on the windshield. In winter there are two main issues to deal with – windshields icing over and snow or freezing rain blocking your view while driving.
In order to de-ice a windshield, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has several recommendations. Perhaps most importantly, try to avoid having them ice over in the first place. Parking in a closed space is best for this but not too practical for all truckers. However, covering your windshield overnight with a towel, rubber mat or sheet and holding them in place with your windshield wipers can be quite effective.
There are a number of preventative and de-icing fluids you can buy, or even make on your own using a mixture of vinegar or rubbing alcohol and water. Keep in mind, de-icing fluids can get expensive and with homemade solutions you have to be careful as it can damage your vehicle’s paint.
If you do end up with an icy windshield, start your vehicle and turn on the defroster full blast. You can speed up the thawing process with a de-icing fluid (either purchased or home-made), However, it is important to make sure the entire windshield is de-iced, don’t try to just clear off the minimum necessary, you need the whole windshield to drive safely.
To prevent trouble from freezing rain and snow on your way, the NHTSA recommends making sure your windshield wiper fluid is full before starting out. Wiper fluid should be “high-quality” meaning it has a very low freezing point (at least -20F◦).
2. Under pressure - In winter, the intense cold can cause tire pressure to drop (remember Deflategate?), making it particularly important to keep a close eye on tire pressure. The NHTSA recommends checking your tires at least once a month, year-round and points out that in winter you should check your tires after they have been exposed to the cold for the most accurate reading. And, of course, be prepared with tire chains if you’re entering particularly snowy areas.
3. Don’t get overconfident – after a few hours of driving through snow-covered roads, you may start thinking, “I got this.” But even the most experienced driver can’t really know what dangers may be lurking underneath a patch of snow, especially black ice. Black ice is formed when there is a thin layer of water on the road, often from snow that starts to melt and then refreezes, forming a transparent coating of slippery ice on the road. So, it’s important to remain alert at all times. Also remember that bridges can often freeze over before roads so even if the road is clear, bridges can be icy.
4. Learn from the scouts - Be prepared to get stuck on the road. Despite all your efforts to make your journey as smooth as possible, sometimes circumstances dictate you getting stuck someplace, so be prepared. At the very least you should set out with some extra clothes, food and water (for a couple days), blankets, toilet paper and a cell phone charger. You may even want to travel with a portable toilet.
5. Keep your distance - While it’s always important to keep sufficient distance between your vehicle and the one in front, ice, snow and freezing rain make safe following distances critical. This can be made easier with a good collision avoidance system such as the Mobileye® 8 Connect™. This system provides headway monitoring & warning which provides audio and visual alerts when the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead becomes unsafe. In winter conditions it is advised to set your collision warning to provide alerts so as to keep the maximum safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead, giving you enough time to hit the brakes.
For more information about how the Mobileye collision avoidance system can protect your fleet year-round, go to Mobileye.com/fleets.