Hurricane Isaac blew through the southeast last month with a torrent of wind and rain. As we head into fall, more storms will doubtless be brewing out at sea, possibly headed toward one of your future routes.While there are tons of resources out there for driving a heavy truck through snow, sleet, and ice, there isn’t much in the way of advice for tropical weather, including winds that move as fast as cars on the highway and enough rain to make the road indistinguishable from the ditches alongside it.
Now, obviously, the safest option is to find a way to delay trips through stormy areas until clearer weather shows up, but we know that isn’t always an option. If you absolutely must go through a stormy patch, even if it’s just a run-of-the-mill thunderstorm, it’s better to have some safety precautions in place than to possibly damage your rig or your load due to unpredictable conditions.
Here’s a quick and simple list of things that may make the difference when you’re driving on a storm day:
You should know the approximate weight of your cargo before you head out on any trip. You’ll want to ensure you’re not traveling with an empty trailer or an exceptionally light load when high winds are involved.
The uneven weight between the truck and trailer can easily create jack-knifing or a loss of control of the rear wheels if conditions get extreme enough. Be aware of what you’re working with and if you must travel with an exceptionally light load, slow it down and maintain hyper-vigilance.
If you’re tuning it up at all in preparation for extreme weather (including those icy storms we mentioned earlier), your tires should be one of your major points of focus.
Tire pressure, chains, traction, mud flaps, and balance are all integral to keeping you safe and in the correct lane when weather becomes unpredictable.
Avoiding other vehicles during extreme storms, even if it means extending the time it will take you to get to point B, is always a good consideration. Whether your neighbors on the road are compact cars or fellow semi-trucks, you want to be sure to give them plenty of space if you (or they) happen to have an unpredictable moment.
Keep your eyes on the road and aware of any sudden dangers that may appear, including debris, traffic accidents, animals, and flooding. Best of luck, and be safe out there!