Winter Driving Tips & Tricks

Winter is around the corner and our Bison USA team wants to make sure that you are properly prepared for the road ahead. Although we cannot control the weather, we can certainly control the actions we take to help mitigate any potential problems.

Many states around the nation will be enacting chain laws, if they haven’t already. For all trucks 2017 and older, all drivers must carry 2 bags of chains for their tractor and one bag of chains for their trailer. If your tractor is 2018 or newer, you must carry 2 bags of socks for the truck and one bag of chains for the trailer. You will be considered in violation if a DOT inspection is performed on your unit, and you’re not in compliance with the aforementioned. Many drivers have asked me, “When do I need to use my chains or socks?”  The simple answer is: you are the captain of your own ship. If you decide to chain up, you must maintain a speed no faster than 20 mph. Be sure you are carrying a set of bolt cutters with you in the case the chains bind and cannot be removed. If running with socks, you must maintain a speed no faster than 20mph. Most drivers decide to shut down when a winter storm hits. If you decide not to chain up, that is perfectly acceptable, just make sure you are contacting your fleet manager to explain your situation to properly plan your trip. Chains do take time to apply, and require a certain amount of discipline to make sure they are properly installed. If they are improperly installed, they can cause major damage to the tractor, tires, and roadway. Many drivers also recommend storing your chains inside your tractor during the winter months. If stowed away securely, you will not have to worry about theft or frozen chains.  Chains and socks are an important tool in your rig.

There are a few other maintenance related items you can practice to lower your chances of winter weather related issues. When shutting down either during or before a storm, be sure to have a realistic plan to get out of the truck stop. Be sure there are no tight turns or other obstacles that may be snow covered and cause you to get stuck. Many recommend you carry a steel-bladed snow shovel in your cab in the case you do get stuck. If you do happen to pull over or park after winter weather hits, be sure to shut down, wait 15 minutes, and pull up a few feet. This will allow your wheels and brake units to dry and will lower their chances of freezing. Although our tractors are equipped with air dryers, we also recommend bleeding your tanks at least once a week to remove moisture out of the air system. We also recommend putting some anti-gel or #1 diesel into your reefer fuel tanks to avoid gelling issues. Most reefers should be run continuously in very cold areas to avoid gelling issues experienced in a start/stop cycle. Drivers should also be carrying a 2 ½ gallon jug of DEF as many truck stop pumps freeze in the far north. And as always, be sure to clean the rear of your trailer after stopping to be sure others can see your lights on the road.

Our Bison USA family is very proud and appreciative of our drivers. We want to see everyone successful in their careers as professional drivers. If anyone has any further questions regarding winter weather driving, please feel free to reach out to your fleet manager or the maintenance team.  Together we will be successful and as always, safety first!