(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Truck drivers have an essential job of transporting goods or materials, but winter weather conditions can cause concerns while they travel on the open road.
According to the Federal Highway Administration‘s website, each year 24% of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15% happen during snowfall or sleet.
Juan Hernandez and Juan Silguero are instructors in Texas State Technical College’s Professional Driving Academy, which is part of the college’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education department.
Recently they shared some winter driving and vehicle maintenance tips.
Hernandez said a truck driver should be aware of their surroundings and road conditions.
“When the snow starts to melt, freezing temperatures are likely,” he said. “That can lead to ice forming on the road or on a bridge. A truck driver should be able to notice any icy conditions — especially if their truck happens to swivel. In that event, they should locate the nearest truck stop and pull over for the night.”
Hernandez said drivers should slow down when roads are slick.
“In our CDL driver’s manual for weather conditions, it’s suggested that a driver should decrease their truck speed to three quarters of the speed limit,” he said. “In harsh conditions, they should decrease their truck speed to half of the speed limit.”
Silguero said a vehicle maintenance inspection is key to safety in all weather conditions.
“It’s required for a truck driver to look at the coolant, windshield wipers, brakes, battery, and tire pressure,” he said. “If a truck doesn’t have the proper amount of coolant, it can cause engine failure. Failure to do so also can lead to the truck’s brakes freezing. Replace the windshield wipers if the (blades are) worn out. If the battery life on your truck is halfway, replace it with a new one. As for tire pressure, make sure your truck has the recommended pounds per square inch. Otherwise, it can cause damage and lead to a blowout.”
Silguero added that students in TSTC’s Professional Driving Academy are informed about winter driving conditions.
“We are preparing the individuals for real-world truck-driving jobs,” he said. “We explain the ins and outs of when weather conditions are favorable for driving throughout different regions in the United States.”
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.