Safe winter trucking: Dealing with snow plows, road closures

Official government road condition reports can be found on the 511 network.

The keys to safe winter driving are patience and planning.

Winter weather conditions can challenge any professional truck driver and any motor carrier. Shipper expectations of on-time delivery and driver hours-of-service limitations do battle with slower speeds, reduced visibility and deteriorating road conditions.

The keys to safe winter driving are patience and planning.

Patience means allowing more time. Accepting that road speeds will be lower. Not taking risks to make up lost time. Watching for drivers who do not know how to handle winter road conditions. Leaving more space ahead and behind the truck, because stopping distances increase on wet and icy pavements. And, yes, helping the customer understand that a safe arrival is your primary goal.

Planning means having alternatives ready when winter conditions require a different course of action. Knowing the alternate routes that will safely reach your destination. Researching in advance other exits if your usual one is blocked by drifting snow or other road hazards. Having substitute parking locations in mind if your planned stop is full.

Patience and planning can easily be put to the test in winter. Localized conditions may not appear on your company’s weather report or on your cell phone weather app, and the conditions themselves can change quickly. Two challenges in particular that you may face are snow plows and unplanned winter road closures.

Snow plows

Truck drivers and motor carriers committed to safety know that commercial motor vehicle law enforcement share the same goal. They have one other “official” friend on the road committed to their safety – the snow plow driver. Snow plow drivers by definition work in the worst winter conditions, with the most limited visibility. Give them space, distance, and, most of all, patience to do their job.

The space is needed because snow plows often are rigged with “wing” blades, extending 10-12 feet – the equivalent of a full traffic lane – to the side. Those blades often have blinking warning lights at their tips, but in blowing snow conditions those warning lights may be obscured. The snow plow may also be longer than anticipated, as front blades extend ahead of the cab.

Snow plows deserve distance, as well. The snow they kick up can blind vehicles following too close. The plowing can also eject pieces of ice, which can crack windshields. Many snow plows or trucks accompanying the plow lay down sand or deicer. Follow too close and those substances may blur your windows and mirrors.

Patience is always a virtue in winter driving. With a snow plow ahead, patience will be rewarded. Snow plows typically travel at about 35 mph to efficiently move the snow. Often they work in teams, with other plows or trucks, taking one section of a road at a time. So, you won’t be delayed too long in letting the plow or team finish its road section. Passing a snow plow is not generally recommended. But if you are tempted to pass, assess the passing lane conditions, allow room for the plow’s “wing” blades, and consider that you and any oncoming traffic may be dealing with obscured visibility.

Unplanned winter road closures

You or your dispatcher have already selected a safe road in winter and considered alternate routes should driving conditions change. But, again, localized winter conditions may be drastically — different drifting snow, icy bridges, snow plow activity and traffic accidents – and may cause unforeseen road closures.

Slow down when you see flashing lights ahead. Follow the directions of road crews and law enforcement. Watch for variable message signs and listen to local radio for road advisories.  When you can safely pull off the road, contact your company for further directions.

Official government road condition reports can be found on the 511 network, available by phone and online in 35 participating states – but only call or search when parked off the highway and in a safe location.

Patience and planning are your keys to safe winter driving. Snow plows and road closures are there to keep you out of unsafe conditions. Respect them, and yourself, by driving safely in the winter. Stay safe drivers.

SB I-55 shut down in Collinsville after 2 semi-trucks spill load

Semi-truck crash blocking SB I-55 in Collinsville Monday.

COLLINSVILLE, Ill.  – All lanes of southbound Interstate 55 in Collinsville are closed after two semi-trucks spilled their loads Monday morning.

In addition, only one lane of northbound Interstate 55 is getting through.

While crews are on the scene, traffic is being diverted onto Route 157, according to the Troy Police Department. For major traffic delays, the police department said traffic is also being diverted to Interstate 270.

Officials said no one was injured in the crash.

1 dead, 2 critically injured in semi-truck crash near I-10 in west Valley

TOLLESON, Ariz. (FOX 10) – Authorities say one person is dead and two others are critically injured following a crash involving a semi-truck near Interstate 10 in the west Valley.

According to the Tolleson Police Department, the crash happened when a black car was traveling southbound on 99th Avenue and was preparing to turn onto the westbound I-10 on-ramp.

Police say a semi-truck traveling northbound on 99th Avenue hit the car when it was turning left onto the on-ram.

Three people in the car were taken to a hospital in critical condition. One of the passengers died at the hospital.

The semi-truck driver remained at the scene.  Impairment does not appear to be a factor.

Four Vehicles Involved In Cantonment Hit And Run Crash

At least one person was injured in a four-vehicle accident Thursday afternoon on Highway 29 near Kingsfield Road.

The driver of a pickup rear-ended the an 18-wheeler with a flatbed trailer. That pickup was then reportedly struck by a by a pickup that was hauling another pickup. A unknown white GMC then hit the second pickup involved the crash. The GMC fled the scene.

One person was transported to an area hospital by Escambia County EMS.

The crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Semi overturns scattering clothing, goods on S.R. 528

Debris was left scattered over the roadway after a crash on S.R. 528 early Friday morning.

The crash happened along the Beachline in Orange County as drivers headed toward Brevard County, near S.R. 520.

Florida Highway Patrol officials said the driver of a semi-truck hauling clothing and other goods lost control of the vehicle and hit a guardrail.

According to troopers, the tractor-trailer then struck the center wall and overturned, before catching fire.

Rodney Reese, the 23-year-old driver, was able to get out of the vehicle uninjured. He was ticketed for careless driving.

S.R. 528’s eastbound lanes are blocked off from Exit 31 to Exit 37.

Officials have not said if anyone was injured.