Winter Driving Conditions Are Coming

Oh my goodness, October already! As you might imagine, writing an article for a magazine has a certain lead-time to it. For me, I have to write these articles weeks, if not months before the magazine is published. I say this because at the time that I am writing this article, I’m very hopeful that the US government will soon issue the “notice of proposed rule-making” in regards to the new electronic logging device (ELD). By the time you read this article, this is likely to have been done and it should be in all the daily trucking newspapers and their websites. One thing that you may not know is that the Provincial Transportation Minister, Stephen Deluca and the Federal Transportation Minister, Lisa Raitt have both previously indicated that they will enact legislation to make ELD’s a Canadian reality!

Personally, I am looking forward to all trucks having electronic logging devices installed. This is definitely going to have an impact on the transportation industry, and trucking companies and drivers are definitely going to feel the impact. That being said, I think the ones who are going to be most disturbed by the new regulation will be the shippers! This is going to bring a new reality to shippers as fleets will no longer be able to have their trucks sit for hour upon hour at a shipper or receiver’s loading dock without financial compensation for the Drivers and Owner Operators. The truck drivers and trucking companies will no longer be able to make up lost time by cheating on their logbooks. And this I believe is a healthy step in the quest of collision reduction.

As I said previously, I’m writing before the end of August and I don’t know that the ELD rule from the states has yet been released. But I am so hopeful!

I know you are reading this in October and I would like to remind all Drivers and Operators that winter is coming and in some places in Canada it is likely already here. So drivers, you just finished “construction season” with all of its hazards and you had to endure all of those minivans loaded with families heading off on vacation while not paying attention to the road, but now you must move on to the hazards associated with winter driving.

So I would like to remind drivers about “black ice”. There are many different hazards when it comes to winter driving but I think black ice is perhaps the worst. When you’re driving in a snowstorm or on snow-covered highways you can see the hazard and adjust your driving techniques to compensate. With black ice, unless you are very diligent, you will not know that it is there. So how do you detect black ice?

First thing that you should be aware of is the temperature outside. Black ice most often forms around the temperatures of 0 Celsius. It will form between the -2 and +2 Celsius. That is a wide range in temperature. It often forms in the evening and at night as temperatures are dropping so you need to be extra careful at this time of the day. Black ice will often form first in low lying areas. So, as you drive through those dips and valleys you have got to be diligent. Black ice will often form first on bridges and overpasses. Especially on a day that there is a stiff breeze or wind as this will lower the temperature on the road surface.

How do you detect black ice? You must be like a detective and look at the signs. If the road looks wet and there is no road spray coming from the tires of the vehicle in front of you, this is an indication that the moisture on the road has frozen and is now black ice. Listen to the sound of your tires. Yes, that means you have to turn your radio off and perhaps open your window a little. But tires on dry pavement make a different sound than tires on wet pavement. So you need to be listening. While you have that window rolled down a little, touch the back of the mirror. If the moisture on your mirror has frozen, that is an indication that the road may have frozen as well. All in all, you need to be extra careful at this time of the year.

How do you deal with driving on black ice? First and foremost, slowdown! Often, drivers under estimate the stopping distance required between vehicles or are not aware of the difficulty of keeping their truck under control while driving in treacherous conditions. If you are on black ice and lightly touched your brakes, this could cause a loss of control or cause your trailer to jackknife. So the best idea might be to get off the road. This is not only for your safety but for the safety of everyone.

So to conclude, winter is coming and the threat of black case is real. You owe it to your family to be cautious and drive safe.

Chris Harris
Safety Dawg , Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)