Navigating Seasonal Changes in Truck Driving

by Pride Transport | Jun 28, 2024

Not everyone notices trees budding in spring or leaves changing color in fall, but truck drivers are guaranteed a front row seat to the seasons shifting from one to the next. Seasonal changes offer a lot of natural beauty, but they’re also a cue for truck drivers to prepare for what the next few months will bring in terms of weather and potential driving hazards.

From driving in the rain to navigating increasingly crowded roadways to double-checking winter emergency kits, truck drivers need to be prepared for whatever they might encounter en route to their destination. Let’s look at the unique circumstances and hazards that each season brings before covering what you’ll need to stay safe and comfortable.


Spring Season Driving Challenges

The combination of winter snowmelt and spring showers can lead to slippery road conditions, as well as soft, muddy ground along the shoulder. Drivers should be aware of potential flooding and sudden severe storms or tornadoes, depending on which parts of the country they typically drive through.

Longer daylight hours help with visibility, but animal activity picks up, too, giving truck drivers something else to look out for when driving. On top of all of this, road crews will resume construction projects. Construction can lead to detours on less familiar routes, narrower or fewer driving lanes, and more congested traffic.

How to prepare

Increase your following distance when driving in the rain, especially on hills. CMVs need plenty of time and distance to come to a complete stop, and slippery conditions require more caution and more roadway to brake safely.

Don’t attempt to drive your truck through flooded areas. You can’t see hidden obstructions under the water that could damage your truck or put you in an even more unsafe situation. Obstructions aren’t necessarily objects; they could include large potholes or other winter weather-related damage that hasn’t been properly repaired yet.

Even on non-flooded roads, trucks are at a higher risk of hydroplaning during or after a heavy rain. Be extra cautious when following speed limits and review how to maneuver your truck in situations where you might lose traction.

Monitor and abide by posted speed limits in construction zones. Prepare for road detours, construction, and closures by checking DOT apps and websites prior to traveling. Downloading reliable weather and route planning apps can help if you need to make adjustments on the fly as well.

 pride transport employee driving

What to Expect From Summer Weather

Semi trucks and other CMVs are prone to overheating in the summer. Higher temperatures can contribute to higher rates of tire blowout, affecting your safety as well as that of other drivers. Sunny days and soaring temperatures can impact driver comfort as well, so it’s important to consider how you’ll protect yourself from overheating, too.

Summer is the prime travel season for most of the country, so be prepared for more crowded roadways. Urban driving and other in-town routes could also see more bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Whether on the highway or local roads, drivers should expect to regularly encounter short- and long-term road construction projects.

Tips for preparedness

Take extra care during pre-trip inspections to ensure the AC is working correctly, the coolant levels are correct, and that tires are in good shape. Also plan to double-check all hoses and connections as they can react negatively to excessive heat as well.

Stay cool while driving by using your AC when possible, or use a portable neck fan on really hot days. Keep extra water in your cab and plan extra stops so you can get into an air-conditioned space during your driving breaks.

Drive during cooler parts of the day (or at night, if possible) to avoid the potential for overheating. Driving at night could also help you to avoid traffic jams and generally congested highways.


Truck Driving Conditions in The Fall

In different parts of the country, fall brings foggy conditions. Combine this with decreasing daylight, and drivers need to be extra vigilant about visibility. Falling leaves can create traction issues, especially when wet. Drivers might even find that leaves obscure traffic arrows and other signals painted on the road.

In terms of sharing the road, truck drivers might see more large farm equipment and school transportation on their routes. They’ll also have to keep an eye out for increased deer activity, especially when driving at night.

Tips for preparedness

During your pre-trip inspection, double-check that your lights and hazards are fully operational. You’ll likely rely on them more in foggy conditions — especially your low beams. You will need to scan the sides of the road more often to check for deer. If you see at least one deer, stay alert for a second or third (or more) to show up not far behind.

Allow for extra space between your truck and other vehicles when roads are slick or leaf-covered. It’s also a good idea to pack your tire chains in case of an early or unexpected snowfall, especially when traveling in mountainous areas.


Driving Challenges in the Winter

Winter brings shorter days, and fewer daylight hours mean you’ll drive in the dark more often. It’s important that you’re not only able to see, but that you’re able to be seen by other vehicles. Snow adds another visibility factor to be mindful of. Snowfall impacts your vision and feel for the road — not to mention the impact it has on all of the drivers around you. 

But snow isn’t the only cold-weather condition you need to prepare for. Ice is a substantial driving hazard, especially on bridges and on/off ramps. Black ice throws another curve in there because it often appears to look like a wet patch of road when it’s really a slick ice patch that can cause major traction issues.

Sun might seem like a nice change of pace, but sun reflecting off the snow requires vision protection. You’ll also be sharing the road with snow plows and salt trucks depending on where you’re driving. Similar to CMVs, these vehicles require more space and caution from other cars on the road.

Tips for preparedness

Use snow tires and tire chains for extra traction in snowy conditions. Just as when driving in the rain, allow more time and distance for stopping in case of slippery or icy roads. Take extra time to clear your windshield, mirrors, and lights of all snow. Any reflective tape on your trailer should be secured and clean.

Equip your cab with extra road salt or cat litter and a collapsible shovel in case you need to remove accumulated snow from around your tires in the case of an overnight snowfall. Check that you have at least one pair of sunglasses for sunny days so you can drive comfortably without the reflection off the snow hurting your eyes.

Tips for Year-Round Preparedness

Pre-trip inspections are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and for good reason: they’re the best way to ensure that your truck is safe to operate, helping to keep everyone on the road safe. Follow the required instructions and pay extra attention to specific features depending on the season you’re driving in.

It’s also important to keep a few extra emergency supplies in your cab. In addition to your emergency kit and other required supplies, store these safely in the cab:

  • Salt, sand, and/or cat litter
  • Shovel (choose a collapsible to save space)
  • Rain poncho
  • Safety cones/flares
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Extra phone charger/battery
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio
  • First-aid kit

Driver safety is a top priority for our team at Pride Transport. We not only make sure our drivers know what to expect when driving in bad weather, we also ensure that they have the best equipment. Our trusted maintenance team keeps every truck in top shape so drivers can travel with confidence. Learn more about Pride Transport by exploring our job opportunities today!

pride transport driver looking out window

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