Severe summer weather leads to dangerous road conditions for all drivers, and are a special concern for all truck drivers. To complicate matters, meteorologists are predicting above-average tornado activity in the Midwest this year due to a colder-than-normal Pacific.
How can CDL drivers prepare themselves and keep themselves and others on the road safe? Just follow these simple safe driving reminders and practices:
Spotting a tornado: Tornadoes can occur day or night; the Storm Prediction Center says to look for these signs:
● Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base
● Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base
● Sometimes have no funnel
● Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm, or a fast, intense wind shift
● Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen
● Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder does
● At night, look for small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds)
● Look for persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning
If a tornado warning occurs while you are driving:
● Do not seek shelter under a highway overpass, as these offer little to no protection from flying debris
● FInd a sturdy building and seek shelter inside, especially if the building offers a walk-in cooler
● Park the vehicle as quickly and safely as possible if you cannot find a building for shelter
● Stay inside your truck with the seat belt on; put your head down below the windows and cover your head with your hands, a blanket, or a coat
● Get lower than the level of the surrounding ground or roadway: if you can find a ditch, ravine, or culvert running under the roadway, make for it and get as far away from any vehicles as possible. Cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body as best you can with a blanket or coat.
Other Spring/Summer Extreme Weather Events include:
● Strong crosswinds: In crosswinds, find a safe place to stop; if possible, go to a truck stop and find a parking spot between two van trailers; this is a good way to protect yourself in a windstorm.
● Dust Storms: Dust storms can be hard to predict; if you are caught in one, pull over and wait it out; keep windows tightly closed and get some rest until it has passed.
● Hailstorms: Hailstorms cause low visibility on the road and heavy damage to trucks; it is best to stay alert to weather warnings and avoid severe hail when possible; if you get caught in a hailstorm, be aware that a tornado may be near; avoid using the jake brake during hailstorms since the roads can be more slippery than they appear.
● Excessive Heat: High temperatures are hard on trucks, from the engine to the tires; if the temperature rises above 105°, it may be best to park your truck and continue on your trip once things have cooled down in the evening.
Keep in mind: Although you may learn severe weather safety tips during training or through many years of experience, it’s good to review recommendations and safety procedures like the ones above each season.
Be prepared! Stay alert! Stay safe!
At Carleton Transport, our goal is to create calm in the chaos of the trucking industry while maintaining driver safety. If you’re interested in hearing more about our current driving opportunities, call 402-332-0260 to speak with our recruiter. Or, visit our website at carletontransport.com/driving-jobs today.