The Commercial Drivers License
DRIVING IN WINTER
Make sure your vehicle is ready before driving in winter weather.
You should make a regular pre-trip inspection, paying extra attention
to the following items. Coolant Level and Antifreeze Amount. Make
sure the cooling system is full and there is enough anti-freeze
in the system to protect against freezing. This can be checked with
a special coolant tester.
Defrosting and Heating Equipment.
Make sure the defrosters work. They are needed for safe driving.
Make sure the heater is working and that you know how to operate
it. If you use other heaters and expect to need them (e.g., mirror
heaters, battery box heaters, fuel tank heaters), check their operation.
Wipers and Washers.
Make sure the windshield wiper blades are in good condition. Make
sure the wiper blades press against the window hard enough to wipe
the windshield clean. Otherwise they may not sweep off snow properly.
Make sure the windshield washer works and there is washing fluid
in the washer reservoir. Use windshield washer antifreeze to prevent
freezing of the washer liquid. If you can’t see well enough while
driving (for example, if your wipers fail), stop safely and fix
Make sure you have enough tread on your tires. The drive tires
must provide traction to push the rig over wet pavement and through
snow. The steering tires must have traction to steer the vehicle.
Enough tread is especially important in winter conditions. You should
have at least 4/32 inch tread depth in at least two major grooves
on front wheels and at least 2/32 inch on other wheels. More tread
would be better. Use a gauge to determine if you have enough for
safe driving. Public school buses must have 4/32 in all majorgrooves
on front wheels.
You may find yourself in conditions where you can’t drive without
chains, even to get to a place of safety. Carry the right number
of chains and extra cross links. Make sure they will fit your drive
tires. Check the chains for broken hooks, worn or broken cross links,
and bent or broken side chains. Learn how to put the chains on before
you need to do it in snow and ice.
Lights and Reflectors.
Make sure the lights and reflectors are clean. Lights and reflectors
are especially important during bad weather. Check from time to
time during bad weather to make sure they are clean and working.
Windows and Mirrors. Remove any ice, snow, etc., from the windshield,
windows, and mirrors before starting. Use a windshield scraper,
snow brush, and windshield defroster as necessary.
Hand Holds, Steps, and Deck Plates.
Remove all ice and snow from hand holds, steps, and deck plates
you use to enter the cab or to move about the vehicle. This will
reduce the danger of slipping.
Radiator Shutters and Winterfront.
Remove ice from the radiator shutters. Make sure the winterfront
is not closed too tightly. If the shutters freeze shut or the winterfront
is closed too much, the engine may overheat and stop.
Exhaust system leaks are especially dangerous when cab ventilation
may be poor (windows rolled up, etc.). Loose connections could permit
poisonous carbon monoxide to leak into your vehicle. Carbon monoxide
gas will cause you to be sleepy. In large enough amounts it can
kill you. Check the exhaust system for loose parts and for sounds
and signs of leaks.
Driving Slippery Surfaces.
Drive slowly and smoothly on slippery roads. If it is very slippery
you shouldn’t drive at all. Stop at the first safe place.
The following are some safety guidelines:
• Start gently and slowly. When first starting, get the feel of
the road. Don’t hurry.
• Adjust turning and braking to conditions. Make turns as gentle
as possible. Don’t brake any harder than necessary, and don’t use
the engine brake or speed retarder. (They can cause the driving
wheels to skid on slippery surfaces.)
• Adjust speed to conditions. Don’t pass slower vehicles unless
necessary. Go slow and watch far enough ahead to keep a steady speed.
Avoid having to slow down and speed up. Take curves at slower speeds
and don’t brake while in curves. Be aware that as the temperature
rises to the point where icebegins to melt, the road becomes even
more slippery. Slow down more.
• Adjust space to conditions. Don’t drive alongside other vehicles.
Keep a longer following distance. When you see a traffic jam ahead,
slow down or stop to wait for it to clear. Try hard to anticipate
stops early and slow down gradually.
• Wet Brakes. When driving in heavy rain
or deep standing water, your brakes will get wet. Water in the brakes
can cause the brakes to be weak, to apply unevenly, or to grab.
This can cause lack of braking power, wheel lockups, pulling to
one side or the other, and jackknife if you pull a trailer. Avoid
driving through deep puddles or flowing water if possible. If not,
• Slow down
• Place transmission in a low gear.
• Gently put on the brakes. This presses
linings against brake drums or discs and keeps mud, silt, sand,
and water from getting in. • Increase engine RPM and cross the water
while keeping light pressure on the brakes.
• When out of the water, maintain light pressure
on the brakes for a short distance to heat them up and dry them
• Make a test stop when safe to do so. Check
behind to make sure no one is following, then apply the brakes to
be sure they work right. If not, dry out further as described above.
(CAUTION: Do not apply too much brake pressure and accelerator at
the same time or you can overheat brake drums and linings.)