As a trucker, you have some of the best office views in the world. Beautiful sunsets and sunrises, quaint countryside and bustling cities. These can change slightly with the winter months - snowfalls are beautiful, too, but frozen windshields and icy roads can make the beauty dangerous.
For someone whose office is the road, winter can mean trouble if you're not prepared. While we're sure everyone reading this is already a fantastic trucker, here are some hacks to help you get through the season!
1. Buy a Chalkboard/Dry Erase Marker Eraser
Sometimes, frost on the outside of your windshield isn't the only barrier to your eyes on the road. I'm sure that even with the defrost on you've seen the inside of your windshield fog up on more than one occasion, which can lead to frantically scrubbing it with your sleeve, left over fast food napkins, or whatever else you can find. While these all work to clear the fog, you can be left with annoying streaks and lint all over your windshield. A chalkboard eraser will not only clear the fog, but keep your windshield streak and lint free!
2. Try AutoSocks!
If you haven't been on our blog very long, you might not have heard of Autosocks yet! Autosocks cover your tires and provide extra traction; they're an excellent alternative to snow chains! They are also easy to put on and are made of a tough, durable fabric. You can learn more about the Autosocks in our demonstration video here. Autosocks are free to all K&J drivers and available to owner operators at a discounted rate! Please Keep in mind that while auto socks are a great alternative they are not a complete replacement for snow chains. Some driving conditions or locations may still require traditional chains.
3. Make Sure Your Winter Kit Is Up to Date
Hopefully, many of you already have a winter survival kit in your vehicle. This should include extra blankets and socks, hand warmers, a tin cup, flashlights and extra batteries, canned food, kitty litter (for traction), and more. If you'd like a complete list of what to include in your winter survival kit, you can check out this link here.
At the start of every winter, go through your survival kit and make sure everything is still in working order - like your flashlight and batteries; make sure you have everything you'll need in case of an emergency.
4. Invest in Good Wool Socks
Layers are incredibly important in the winter months. Long johns, jeans, bibs, hats, gloves, work coat, coveralls: whatever you need to stay warm! No matter how thick or durable your boots or shoes are, you should be wearing winter socks. In case you need to get out of your rig and trek through the snow, cotton socks can't absorb much moisture from sweat, rain, or melted snow and will leave you with wet feet - and nobody wants wet feet!
Wool socks can absorb three times as much sweat or water than cotton. They also provide more warmth for your feet, and will even keep their insulating properties if they're wet. Wear wool socks!!!!
5. Store your Electronics Properly
Especially your GPS and cell phone as well as your charger. Avoid putting your electronics and chargers on the floor or anywhere they have a chance of getting overly cool. The cold is hard on electronics, and a charged cell phone can be the difference between a bad situation and a tolerable situation in the winter months.
6. Get a 2 Pound Hammer - and Watch this Video
Watch the linked video above to learn (from our maintenance manager) how to hit the brake drum when you've got frozen brakes. Making it through the winter is all about being prepared, so watch this video now, not later!
Please note, while a 4 lb hammer is what Lou used to recommend (in the video), he now recommends a 2 lb hammer for the job.
7. Keep Your Fuel Tank Full
This goes for all seasons, not just for those in South Dakota trucking during the winter. The ramifications of an empty fuel tank can be more severe in the winter than in the summer. If you're heading to a new area and the weather is questionable, make sure you top off your fuel when you can. You don't always know when and where you'll be able to fill up again, and you don't want to wait until the last minute! It's better to be safe than sorry!
We already got our seven tips in, but we wanted to add one additional overarching tip. You are the best judge of the road conditions where you are. If conditions are not safe, no load is worth it. Delivery of goods is vital to our industry, but your life, and the lives of the drivers around you are even more important!
If you've got any helpful tips or tricks to get through the winter that you want to share, join our Helpful Trucker Hangout page on Facebook to share, learn and talk to other truckers! You can find more information here or go to the group page here.
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