Surviving Winter as a Flatbed Professional
With winter quickly approaching, it’s important to remain safe and protected from the harsh elements that a flatbed professional will experience during the course of their duty.
Winter Gear Guide
Tarping is a year-round job, unless you’re lucky enough to be at a shipper with an indoor facility to allow you to tarp your load, we recommend having waterproof clothing and warm weather gear to protect you from rain, sleet, and snow. Ensure you have the following:
- Anti-Slip shoes to avoid slipping on ice, snow, or your flat-deck. These boots are essential to any flatbed professional.
- Long johns top and bottom,
- Thinsulate lined clothing such as hats, gloves, socks, and jackets. These items are often not too expensive and extremely protective.
- Leather work boots will work if you’re working in -20°C, anything below that you should be using insulated boots.
- Make sure you keep multiple gloves with you at all times. Your gloves will get wet quick and that will expose you to additional cold weather hazards.
- Take plenty of breaks. If possible, take shelter indoors from time to time to warp up your body. Do not risk your life for your job.
- Eat more. Your body is going to be consuming a lot of calories keeping you warm. We recommend eating high-fat foods like chocolate and nuts due to the slow-burning nature of fats and their ability to keep you going for the long haul.
- In cold, dry conditions, you become dehydrated more quickly than you realize, even if you’re not sweating much. Drink frequently. Carry a thermos with a hot drink. Add sugar to it (for quick energy) or a little dollop of butter for flavor and fat.
- Slow down – At fault accidents are mostly due to excessive speed. Driving at the speed limit may be legal, but is often too fast for snow covered or icy road conditions.Take as much time as necessary. Our dispatch team will always work with you to ensure that you are assisted in reaching your destination safe during the winter time. Don’t be a hero.
- Keep a safe following distance – Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of your truck, and beside your truck, when possible (approx. 1/4mile).
- Don’t follow the tail lights of the vehicle ahead – When the snow is so heavy, visibility is low, seeing the tail lights of the vehicle ahead…means following too closely.
- Use good, solid judgment — If the weather is so severe that you need to get off the road….. do it. Find a place to get off the road safely and wait until conditions are safe.
- Don’t stop on the shoulder of the road –– Especially in low visibility situations, when driving in winter, especially ‘blinding snow’, other vehicles can mistake your position for being on the road and as a result, may slam into the back of your rig.
- Braking – Some drivers like to use the jake brake in less than perfect weather conditions. Some don’t. DO NOT ENGAGE THE JAKE BRAKE ON ICY ROADS. Try to avoid overusing your foot brake, unless the entire unit is absolutely ‘straight’ on the road. Don’t over brake when the entire unit isn’t straight… the trailer can slide and spin you out of your position…..the truck slows down, and the trailer does not. This is especially true, when the trailer is empty.
- Ensure ‘all systems’ are a go — Be absolutely certain during your circle check before you leave, that the defroster and heater are working properly. Wipers, wiper motor, lights, esp. brake and tail lights, washer fluid is topped up, drain moisture from the air tanks, all brakes are set up and windows and mirrors are completely clean before departure.
- Keep tractor and trailer lights clean — When you’re able to stop in a safe place, clear the lights off of snow and ice, which builds up in foul weather….they are vital, more than ever when visibility is poor. LED lights especially accumulate snow and crud. Keep everything clean, so you can BE SEEN.
We recommend keeping your truck stocked with the items below.
- Canned food and a can opener
- A flashlight
- Plenty of water
- Jumper Cables
- A tire repair kit and flares
- Keep your fuel tanks topped off
- Keep your cell phone charged
- Keeping your truck keys on a retractable clip can save your life if you drop them in deep snow.
Safety of our drivers and owner-operators is of utmost concern for ITX Logistics Inc. Follow these tips to help you survive through the rough winters and before you know it, you’ll be blasting your AC again!