Top 5 Autumn Driving Tips For Fall 2017by Jake Tully - Published: 10/16/2017
As the weather changes, nature begins to shift and the year begins to wrap up, many commercial drivers slowly, yet surely, transition from trucking in the summer to trucking in the fall.
Though it may seem like a fairly simple transition for a driver to make within their trucking job, there may also be a variety of challenges presented unto drivers who may be taking up new routes in different areas of the country or those who have not traveled in areas of the country that experience a “true winter.”
Based on the advice and expertise of drivers who have been through several years of driving through the autumn season (and many more to come) the following are the top tips for a driver to keep in mind when trucking through this autumn season and following through to winter.
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1. Know The Area You Run In
Professional drivers understand the importance of doing their research. Whether it is researching equipment, a particular tool or gadget, or the company they work for, doing one’s homework is an incredibly important task within any truck driving job.
This research is also vital when it comes to the region a driver operates in. Local, regional, over-the road – though the length of these positions may vary, the fact of the matter is that it is vital to think ahead and prepare. Even throughout the month of October, a California-based trucker may experience a great deal of heat, temperature-wise on the roads.
A driver working in a state like Minnesota, however, will likely begin to encounter winter weather even in the beginnings of the season. These are two wildly disparate regions though contained within the same country, and will therefore require different planning and management for the jobs contained within them.
Knowledge is power – a West Texas driver may have never heard of “black ice” – but when making a long haul they would certainly want to inform themselves of such a phenomenon. Talk to fellow drivers or consult your fleet manager and ask them about what kind of climate-related issues to keep an eye out for.
2. Get Proper Sleep
While this tip is not necessarily exclusive to autumn driving (as it is always important to get the proper amount of rest before operating a motor vehicle) the sentiment of safety still rings true for this time of year. Some truckers may have trouble with adjusting to a sleep schedule due to Daylight Savings or rapid changes in temperatures.
To ensure safety on the roads, drivers who may be facing sleep issues ought to consider a night time ritual that will help establish a proper sleeping schedule and help combat fatigue that may be caused by an inability to adjust to weather or a new time of year.
Invest in a new mattress, pick up some reading material to look at before hitting the hay (as opposed to your phone or tablet) and find out works best for you and your sleeping schedules. Don’t rely on caffeine or nicotine to act as a stimulant when the ultimate resolution to your problem is the need for more deep sleep. Accidents, collisions and the like can be often be prevented by eliminating drowsy driving.
3. Use The Right Tools
Having knowledge about where one is running during the autumn is only half the battle. A professional stocks up the correct tools for their particular trucker job from the get-go, having them on hand before they are needed – not just picking them up after the fact.
Tools need not always come in the form of tools in the traditional sense (though, these may come in handy as well) as they may be mobile apps, external technology, or something as common as a tool one might find at home. The following are great items to have around in the truck during this transitional season on the road:
- Space heater: Even in parts of the country where it may still be warm during the day in the autumn, the nights and early mornings can dip down to a chilly temperature. Keeping a battery-powered heater or one that can plug into your truck is a great way to stay comfortable.
- GPS System: For the times in which your phone or tablet may run out of juice or be out of an area of service, no driver wants to be without some sort of navigation. A GPS unit is critical for one to find their way but also for one to inform them of potential hazards that may be caused by unprepared drivers this season.
- Know The Snow Before You Go: Snow can be a tricky hurdle to overcome for any position, and may vary greatly by the amount of snowfall depending on the specific time of year as well as the specific driving area. Northern Florida drivers may require some chains on their times to get through a lane – their even more Northern counterparts in the rest of the country may require an overall overhaul of their truck altogether.
4. Be Wary of Increased Traffic On The Roads
Stocking for the holidays and shopping for the holidays can see an increase of commercial and non-commercial vehicles alike. For many parts of the country this will spell a greater volume of drivers on the road and a greater need to be mindful of those making their rounds. To this end, many drivers are likely facing similar issues and making the same transitions as one who has a career in the truck.
It’s highly important to stay aware of those who may be new drivers or those who may be unfamiliar with certain road conditions. Even the most seasoned trucker must operate to the best of their ability when the roadways become jam-packed with people going to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving or those delivering the frozen birds to the store that grandmother shops at.
A general rule of thumb finds that more traffic is found on the roads as the year goes on – though traffic may seem sparse in October, come early December it is an entirely different story.
A truly great driver remembers that they are not the only ones on the road during the autumn, nor do they place any external importance on being a commercial driver versus those may be passenger drivers.
5. Beware of The Signs of The Season
If someone told you that one of the greatest hazards on the roads were leaves – would you think that they were pulling your leg? A natural occurrence indicative of the time of the year and the year to come, piles of leaves can be one of the most innocuous yet harmful phenomenon on the road.
The most forefront danger of leaves is that they may hide many things on the road as they blow and scatter over highways and freeways. Innate road markers such as highway dividers, turn lanes, and double yellow lines can be obscured by the natural path that leaves take.
In some more distressing cases, leaves can cover up dangers in the road like potholes or other debris that can cause damage to one’s tires. If an autumn rainfall hits, leaves can also become a slippery hazard that may be as detrimental to one’s path as a new layer of ice on the roads. While leaves may be a vision to admire this time of year, they are also one to stay acutely aware of.
6. Find The Right Trucking Job This Season
Ultimately, diligence is incredibly important on our country’s roads this fall (and every fall) but one must also consider their happiness and aptitude towards the driving job they have as well.
Find the best job in your preferred area of operation and work with a company that treats you well and gives you the resources to succeed this autumn. Whether one is looking for a local, regional, or long-haul job, there are so many ways in which to find the perfect career as the year ends and we look to the horizon of the next year.