Tag Archives: winter driving

Storytellin’ Truck Drivers

By Larry Pruitt

One thing that is as sure as death and taxes; if you talk to any truck driver for any length of time, you will eventually hear some story about the truckin’ life or some load they have hauled.  Before we go any farther here, let’s just say upfront that some stories are probably pretty much true, but we have all heard stories that have you saying to yourself, “Ain’t no freakin’ way.”  I have been known on certain occasions to not only say it to myself, but also say it out loud – and I should know better, but to no one’s surprise, that doesn’t stop me.
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I-C-E

In Case of Emergency

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

It doesn’t matter if it’s winter, spring, summer or fall; you can find yourself in an emergency situation a long way from home. I think we have touched on this topic before, but it never hurts to have a little refresher because this one is so important! We are in the midst of the winter season once again, which is historically our most dangerous.

I doubt there is a driver out here that doesn’t have a cell phone with all their contacts saved. Just recently I put the letters ICE (In Case of Emergency) in front of those that I would want called if something were to happen to me and I wasn’t in a position to either make a call myself or tell others who to call.

There are also apps available that you can download onto your smartphone that will allow people you trust to track you. I have the “find my friends” app on my iPhone which will show my current location to anyone I have granted permission to, as well as showing me theirs, in real time. My sister, my best friend and my husband all use this app. It really is a blessing knowing that we can, and do, know where each other is anytime we need to. I LOVE sharing my location with my other close trucking friends and having them share theirs with me.

I send a text message each night letting my family and friends know where I’ve stopped for the evening. I see many of my friends checking in all sorts of places on Facebook when they stop to eat, shop, deliver or pickup and when they stop for the night. Facebook seems to me to be a double-edged sword though. I really would prefer y’all check in a much more private and secure place when you are planning on going to sleep!

It’s so much easier today to call home and talk to your family while using your hands free device. Back in the day you had to find a payphone and then you were tied to it while you were catching up on the day’s events back home. It’s so much easier to make miles and help those miles go by faster while talking to your loved ones or friends at the same time.

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If you are running team, it’s not a bad idea to have something outside on the truck saying that you are. In case of an accident first responders know to look for the other person and or pets. If that is not possible, at least put something in the driver’s door that states you have a co-driver and/or a pet.
Winter seems to lead to more emergencies and it’s harder to get help to a driver if road conditions are bad. Be prepared to sit on a cold and snowy road for hours and maybe you can help other motorists who did not leave prepared. Carrying extra water and food & blankets in the winter is always a good idea. In the summer you are not going to freeze to death.

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Make sure that all the emergency equipment is in the truck and ready to go. Look at your fire extinguisher to make sure that the charge is still full. Check to see that your reflective triangles are in the box and in working condition. I think most drivers carry a reflective vest these days and it’s a good idea to wear it if you have to get out and set up your triangles when your truck breaks down.

Emergencies are always going to happen but if you are prepared for them and always give safety 100% of your attention hopefully you can have, or help someone else have, a good outcome. Depending on the situation, your preparedness just might save a life.

Be safe, be prepared and stay alert to the increasing dangers that go along with the job we do. This goes for parking lots, docks for pickups and deliveries, as well as going up and down the road…and don’t forget to put I-C-E in your phone!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Chain Up!

Chain Up! Winter Driving Tips for Semi Trucks | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Ready or not, winter is here! If you run out west you had better be prepared to meet the requirements of the western states when it comes to snow chains. Even if you are stopped on a nice sunny day with no hint of snow in the forecast, you could still be at risk of getting a ticket for not carrying the proper amount of chains for the truck you are driving. It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the requirements for EACH state law regarding chains BEFORE you enter that state. Unfortunately, the laws are not the same from state to state, so getting the information ahead of time is crucial.

We recommend finding out which state has the strictest law and carry the maximum chains you will need, weight allowing. This way you will always be compliant. Another thing to check on, and be sure of, are the dates of requirement which can differ from state to state. For instance, Georgia now has a chain law as a result of all of the wrecks they’ve had in recent winter storms. Again, it’s important to look at the law in ALL states where you run.

When the chain law signs go up, you had better be prepared to hang “iron” or hire some of the people who sit at chain up areas to hang chains for you. If you don’t, you certainly aren’t going anywhere! Make sure that you know your company’s policy about chaining up or parking when the road conditions get to this point. Many companies will allow you to run around a severe winter storm or blizzard, which is the ideal situation. However if they don’t, you need to have the knowledge to keep yourself safe.

Before you find yourself in a situation where you need to put chains on your tires, it would be a good idea to find a place and practice putting them on your wheels. Standing in the cold and snow with drivers splashing you with yuck off the road is not the time to be figuring this out.

Make sure that you have plenty of bungee cords or spider bungees to help secure the chains once they are on. Time and travel on rough snowy roads can and will loosen them, so pay attention in your mirrors. It’s nice if you have a chain hanger under your trailer or on the frame of your truck so that you can hang wet sloppy chains up and not let them freeze in a big lump inside your tool box.

It’s a good idea to check your tires after running chains. Even if your chains didn’t break, other trucks will probably have one break and a broken link in a tire means a trip to the tire shop for repair. I would never have guessed this if a friend hadn’t told me (after learning the hard way).

Sometimes chains can help you even if there isn’t a chain law in effect. For instance, if the road is icy and you have to stop for an accident on an incline, chains might be the only way you are going to be able to get going again. Sometimes after a really big snow it can take truck stops awhile to get everything plowed, especially with all of the trucks in the lot. In a case like that chains or a shovel are going to be your only way out. Another good idea, one we ALWAYS do during winter months, is to carry a bag of sand, salt or kitty litter to help you get enough traction to get going. Be prepared – it may just save your life one winter day!

Remember to SLOW DOWN in inclement weather. Nothing will help you avoid disaster better than a slower speed! We have to keep a sharp eye out at all times for new drivers; 4-wheeler and 18-wheeler alike. For some, this could very well be their first ever winter driving experience. We need to be driving our trucks for them, as well as for ourselves, to keep everyone safe. It is our responsibility as the professionals out here to stay calm and behave as such. We can lead by example and do our best to keep the accident statistics down this winter.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Winter Wellness

Winter Wellness- The cold, dry air of winter is hard, not only on your truck, but on you and on your skin as well. You need to bundle up when the cold temperatures are hovering outdoors! Staying warm; keeping your core temperature up becomes a priority.

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

The cold, dry air of winter is hard, not only on your truck, but on you and on your skin as well. You need to bundle up when the cold temperatures are hovering outdoors! Staying warm; keeping your core temperature up becomes a priority.

It’s important to remember to wear gloves or mittens to protect your fingers and hands and to wrap a winter scarf around your neck and face. When it’s very cold outside having a scarf covering your nose and mouth will help tremendously because it will filter the air you breathe in,  warming it before it enters your airways.

Whenever you are going to be out in the cold for any length of time wearing a stocking hat that keeps your head and ears covered is a necessity since we lose most of our body heat through our heads.

It doesn’t take long to get frostbite on fingers and toes, and, if it’s extreme enough, you could lose some of those digits. So, make sure you have heavy socks and good winter boots, along with a pair of warm insulated coveralls included with your regular wardrobe during the winter months.

As our dear friend Bette Garber always used to tell us, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Keeping your skin hydrated is important, using a good moisturizer is a necessity for men and women, especially at this time of year when cold temperatures cause all of the moisture to disappear from the atmosphere. Get, and use, a good ChapStick for your lips as they are almost always exposed and dry out easily.

You still need to use sunscreen, just like it was summer, maybe even more so. In winter the UV rays have less contaminants in the atmosphere to block them, so even though the days are shorter, the harmful rays are still shining down and the reflective effect off the snow is dangerous.

Another winter tip we use but often forget to mention is saline spray for nasal passages. Doing what we do, traveling through climate changes and altitude differences daily, one of the things we can experience is sinus pressure. We have found that carrying a bottle of saline spray mist is a very useful tool that helps tremendously to relieve the pressure buildup and headache that oftentimes accompanies the pressure. The problem is created due to the drying out of the nasal passages, using the saline mist puts moisture back into those areas.

We have also noticed that there are even snow chains available that you can get to “chain up” your shoes. These studded shoe covers can be a lifesaver when it gets icy out! A slip on the ice could be devastating to you physically, emotionally, as well as financially if it resulted in an injury that prevented you from working for weeks or months. The recovery time for an event like that could crush a family, so take care!

The basic winter checklist should still apply here:

  • Winter clothing: coats, boots, hats, gloves, extra clothing
  • Sweatshirts, insulated pants, thermals, layer clothing
  • Extra blankets or comforters/throws
  • Food, peanut butter & crackers, tuna fish packets, granola bars
  • Bottle water!!
  • Fresh batteries & flashlight
  • Rock salt to help if you get stuck to the road surface
  • Pet Parents – Remember to pack plenty of food & bottle water for your fur baby!

Speaking of pets, don’t forget them when the temperatures plummet! Have a coat and boots for them and use a warm, dry towel to dry them off as soon as they get back in the truck. Be sure to carry plenty of bottled water for them so you can be sure of what they’re drinking. Keep plenty of food onboard, you never know when or where you might get snowed in.

Lastly, always keep your fuel tanks at half full or higher whenever the weather forecast looks ugly! You never know when you may need that extra fuel to last due to a road closure! It’s ALWAYS better to be prepared and safe.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Pack for Winter

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Pack for Winter- The temperatures are tumbling and, even though a lot of us dread the thought that snow will be falling soon, we realize that the time is NOW to prepare ourselves and our trucks for the freezing temperatures. The heat and humidity of summer is one thing but the below zero temperatures and wind chills of winter can turn deadly in a hurry if you are caught unprepared.The temperatures are tumbling and, even though a lot of us dread the thought that snow will be falling soon, we realize that the time is NOW to prepare ourselves and our trucks for the freezing temperatures. The heat and humidity of summer is one thing but the below zero temperatures and wind chills of winter can turn deadly in a hurry if you are caught unprepared.

Even for the old pros, it’s a good idea to make a list and get the proper equipment back in your truck before you might need it.  Starting with winter gear for yourself.  If you have a furry companion, they should have a warm coat along too in case you happen to have a break down and the warm truck turns frigid inside.

Start with the basics: winter coats, winter boots, gloves or mittens, scarves or face masks, thermal underclothes, stocking hats, caps, insulated coveralls and warm clothes such as sweatshirts and insulated jeans, (snow pants are warm and are more water resistant.)  Dress in layers,  it will help keep you warmer longer and as it warms up you can start peeling off layers. Don’t forget the extra blankets or comforters for your sleeper as well, an extra throw or two wouldn’t hurt!

If you run west many states now require snow chains by September 1, snow can fall in the mountains early in the fall and last late into the spring.  If you run these states ignorance is no excuse and the fines can be severe for not having enough chains on board.  Check the minimum requirements for the states you are going to be running through and make sure you have enough.

The first freeze of the season is a learning experience for every driver after the reprieve of summer. Getting the feel of how your rig is going to handle is best done by slowing down when the snow starts coming down and the temperature drops. Last year there were way too many wrecks involving trucks that were going too fast and following too close for conditions. We really don’t want to see a repeat of that this year! We want to urge everyone to PLEASE, take it easy, keep a safe following distance and take your time. We want all of you to arrive safely at your destination.

Be sure you have plenty of food. Every year it seems there are pictures on the news of drivers sharing food with other stranded motorists somewhere in the country. Also make sure you have plenty of water or some way to melt clean snow to drink. Some staples like peanut butter and crackers, tuna fish packets and granola bars can all provide nourishment and help you keep warm even if you were to lose power for a time.

You need to be sure to have plenty of fresh batteries for a flashlight that might one day be needed to signal for help along with some rock salt that could be used to help you get unstuck if you were to find yourself suddenly frozen to the asphalt.

Use a checklist, one you’ve developed over the years. Based on where you drive, you know what you do and don’t need in the truck. Personally, we choose to live by the mantra that we’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it, so we tend to pack much more in the winter than in the summer. Believe it or not we have both had those times throughout the years where we have needed almost every single item we have listed. So pack it up and keep warm this winter.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Winter Preparedness

What You Need To Know

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

As temperatures plummet you have to be prepared for potentially life threatening conditions. The brutal cold is hard on equipment and can cause it to break down leaving you without heat for hours, or force a road to close leaving you in the same spot for hours, even days at times.

Winter Preparedness- As temperatures plummet you have to be prepared for potentially life threatening conditions. The brutal cold is hard on equipment and can cause it to break down leaving you without heat for hours, or force a road to close leaving you in the same spot for hours, even days at times.

1.  It is essential you keep your fuel tanks filled above a half tank as you do not want to be stranded with the gauge approaching empty. You should always carry a spare fuel filter and filter wrench remembering that, if necessary, you MUST fill the filter with fuel before putting it on.

2.  Watch for spray coming off tires, both your own and that of others as this is a good indicator of the iciness of the road. Even if there is spray the road can still be freezing up, especially on bridges and areas where wind is more constant, so be cautious and look at oncoming traffic, see how much snow and ice is building up on their grills and landing gear. Where they are coming from is where you are headed, pay attention, you can learn a lot. The only way to learn to drive in those conditions is to do it but if the oncoming traffic is getting less and less, it might just be time to find a safe place to park. IF it becomes necessary to park remember NOT to set your trailer brakes right away, give them time to cool down first, otherwise the melted snow and ice will refreeze causing the brake shoes to freeze to the drums.

3.  When the time comes to stop on a slick road, if you gently pull down on your trailer brake before applying gentle, steady pressure on your foot pedal, you will have allowed the air to travel through the system and reach the farthest brakes first thereby allowing you to come to a straight stop instead of jack knifing. Getting into this habit will serve you well over the years for any panic stop on icy roads. Believe me, we know.

4.  Make sure your radiator is full of antifreeze, if your heater seems to be blowing cold air it could be because it is running low. Topping this off may be all it takes to fix it.

5.  The newer LED lights are brighter and much easier to see but they burn much cooler so they don’t melt snow, be sure you go back and wipe off all your lights and turn signals often so you can be clearly seen from behind.

6.  We have a “winter carry list” of necessities that we always pack at this time of year and we are going to share it here with you now. It includes for the truck:

  • A gallon or 2 of antifreeze windshield washer fluid (It’s very hard to keep the windshield clean when it’s snowing and traffic is slinging slush, truck-stops sell out of this very quickly)
  • A Good hammer (to beat on the brake drums if frozen to the shoes DON’T BEAT THE SHOES)
  • Rubbing alcohol (it can be poured into air lines at the glad hands when frozen, alcohol dissipates water/ice so brakes can be released)
  • Carry a bag of rock salt (when you are stopped or parked you may/will get frozen to the ground, this will melt the ice so you can move when ready)
  • If your key won’t turn in the lock, rub it, repeatedly, put it in and out of the lock and turn it back and forth and repeat until it turns. It will work, if you are patient.

7.  For yourself, keeping warm is important, make sure you have clothes for the conditions: Insulated coveralls, good winter boots, gloves, socks, hats, scarves, blankets, hand warmers, bunk warmer, huge pillar candles can provide a little heat if the truck shuts down. Have your flashlights and extra chargers all with new batteries and keep a stocked first aid kit. If you are prepared for the worst you’ll probably never have to face it. At least that’s our sincerest hope for you all!

Stay safe out there and keep it shiny!


hogeland_grimm_149x149 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.