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Dealing With Bad Weather Driving

The Winter months can be very trying for a driver who deals with Bad Weather on an on-going basis.  Cold and storms usually create icy roads, slick surfaces and reduced visibility. Holiday travel brings more cars, pickup trucks and SUV’s to the roads, which are being driven dangerously by inexperienced and careless drivers.  All this winter activity greatly increases the risk for a Professional Truck Driver.  So what can you do to avoid accidents and shutdowns while waiting out a storm?

Often, the best strategy to avoid accidents is to avoid going on the road.  Stay put until the storm has passed.  This may avoid accidents, but the hit to your pocket book is heavy if you have to sit in a truckstop for one, two, or three days!  However, if you are in an accident you will probably suffer a bigger hit because you will likely have a damaged rig and may be down for several weeks (not days). There is also the unfortunate reality that big rigs can very easily injure or kill somebody, even though it may not be the truck driver’s fault.

One alternative that made sense for a driver hauling a load from Sacramento, CA to Salt Lake City, UT was to DETOUR around the storm.  When Tioga Pass was shut down for two days, this driver found that the roads through Bakersfield and Las Vegas and then up I-15 to Salt Lake City were clear and would remain so for two days.  Road conditions were good.  The problem was that the Detour was 200 miles over the direct route through Tioga Pass on I-80.  The driver could either sit for two days and then crawl through Tioga Pass at 20 MPH (that would cost him a third day of delay), or he could take the detour that would cost him operating costs about $1.80/mile x 200 miles = $360.  Ouch!  He didn’t want to be out the extra money either!   Being the creative fellow that he was, he called the Shipper and the Receiver and told them that their load would deliver at least three days late if he had to wait to get through Tioga Pass.  But if they would pay the extra mileage ($360) for detouring, the load would deliver on time.  The Shipper agreed to pay the extra mileage and the driver avoided the storm, kept his customer happy, and made good money on the load.

A Professional Truck Driver does not always have the option of a Safe Detour available.  If you must drive, drive only in the best and safest conditions that you can.  Drive defensively; be aware of icy bridges and slick spots on roads.  Give yourself extra room to stop from the vehicle ahead of you.  When the roads are bad, get off them to some-place safe. Pullover for a short while and wait for weather to clear up. An accident is too costly for a small carrier and could easily put you out of business.

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