The crisp, fall air brings with it the likelihood of temperatures dropping enough for truck drivers to experience ice on bridges, sleet, and other dangerous roadway conditions in some parts of the country. As the holidays inch closer and closer, colder weather becomes more of a reality for diesel truck drivers and snow makes its way into the higher elevations and northern states’ forecasts. Roadway conditions can change in the matter of seconds as temperatures drop quickly when the sun goes down and seasoned truckers know all too well what that means for both visibility and overall travel. In 2020, the trucking industry safely delivered 46 million turkeys (an estimated 1.4 billion pounds)–along with all of the sides–214 million pounds of potatoes, 50 million pounds of sweet potatoes, 19 million pumpkin pies, and 80 million pounds of cranberries, to ensure Thanksgiving dinner was complete.

Trucking is an essential part of supply and demand in the United States, and, unfortunately, weather conditions can be optimal in one state and hazardous in another. It falls on the truck drivers and the companies that support them to be trained and equipped to handle cold weather road conditions as they can happen without notice. As the holiday season approaches, the safety of truckers on the road is paramount so they, too, can return home to their families after they complete their job. Here is the essential cabin checklist for truckers so they can remain safe, warm, and prepared for the miles ahead – no matter what the colder weather may bring!

Diesel Truck Cabin Checklist for Cold Weather

A truck driver’s top concerns during the colder, winter months are visibility and road conditions. If a driver is ever uncomfortable driving in their current road conditions, they should always pull over at a safe place to stop and wait for them to change. It is during the waiting period or emergency situations, that these cabin checklist items are critical to the safety of the driver.

      Warm Winter Clothing

Pack clothes that can easily be layered and keep the body warm at night when temperatures drop. Truckers living in the Northern states will have plenty of gear already, but semi-truck drivers in the South should purchase quality water-proof coats, gloves, and hats should they have to exit the cabin during wintery conditions or cold weather. Flatbedders who spend more time outside the truck, or truckers with routes in the mountains, should also pay attention to the quality of their gear.

Other items to consider:

  • Water-proof boots with good insulation
  • Wool Socks
  • Strap on boot traction equipment

Layering clothing will allow the trucker to have extra clothing, if needed, rather than one bulky item such as a heavy coat over a t-shirt. The extra layers can keep diesel truckers warm, safe, and alive until the road conditions improve or help arrives.

      Ice Scraper and Bag of Ice Melt or Road Salt

Freezing temperatures can cause issues for diesel trucks, their engines, and their tires on the road – especially if moisture is present. Being equipped with the right tools to prepare for icy conditions on the rig and surrounding areas can protect truckers against falls, visibility issues, and more.

Ice melt and road salt can be placed in front of the drive wheels to help get the tractor moving. Kitty litter or sand can also work, if supplies are limited, as anything that will improve traction on ice or slippery roadways will work.

Other ice and snow preparedness items:

Depending on the trucker’s route, they could be heading into better or worse weather this winter. It is always better to be safe and prepared (even in the South), than in a dangerous situation. Drivers should pay attention to the forecast of their route and identify rest areas before they start their day.

      Emergency Food and Bottled Water Supply

Truckers that bring extra snacks and water on the road with them in case of traffic or unexpected delays know that high energy, high protein foods come in handy when hunger strikes and a warm meal isn’t readily available. Canned and pre-packaged goods are great due to their long shelf life with no refrigeration needed.

High energy, High Protein Snacks for Truckers:

  • Protein and Granola Bars
  • Canned Tuna, Chicken, Sardines
  • Trail Mix with Dried Fruit
  • Beef Jerky or other dehydrated meats
  • Canned Fruit
  • Crackers
  • Electrolyte Drinks, like Gatorade

Truckers should check the expiration dates annually if they keep their emergency preparedness food and water in their cabin year-round to make sure it is stocked and ready for cold weather driving.

      Heavy Duty Sleeping Bag

A warm, insulated sleeping bag is so important for diesel truckers during the winter months. Investing in a quality sleeping bag is well worth it for truckers looking for a good night’s rest and a back up safety plan during colder weather. To take it a step further, a 12V mattress pad will also help a driver stay warm and comfortable at night. It can be plugged into a lighter socket, so the truck doesn’t have to idle all night.

Other cabin warmth accessories:

  • Hand and Foot Warmers
  • Portable Space Heater
  • Extra Blankets

While these may seem like comfort items, they can be items of survival during the winter months. These items will keep the trucker warm when mechanical issues prevent the truck from running or heat from working in the truck.

      Charger Banks for Cell Phone, Flashlight, and Batteries

The ability to call the trucking company for assistance or call emergency personnel for help is critical during the colder weather months. Like the dangers of running out of water in the heat of August, the impacts to drivers of being stranded in the cold for long periods of time without any help can be devasting.

Semi-truck drivers do not want to be in a situation without a charged phone, their CB radio, and a working flashlight. Having charger banks that are always plugged up and ready inside the truck will ensure they are fully charged and ready should the driver need them.

Here are some other items a driver might want to include in their cold weather cabin kit:

  • Medications
  • First aid kit
  • Batteries for electronics
  • Portable Chargers for any other necessary devices

The one great thing about modern day trucking is we are equipped with GPS. Due to satellite tracking and fleet management software, someone will be able to track a truck’s location easily should weather be an issue.

Some important reminders for diesel truckers this winter is to stay inside the truck for safety and don’t panic. If cell reception is available, do call for help. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) operates a service, called 511, designed to provide updated travel conditions for any state in the country, by simply dialing “511”.

Certified Diesel Solutions Helps Diesel Truckers Stay Safe on the Road!

No load is worth a trucker’s life and a lot of cold weather preparedness for truckers comes down to how well maintained your semi-truck is on the inside. As the temperature continues to drop, this is your time to make an appointment with us at Certified Diesel Solutions. We have over a decade of comprehensive tractor-trailer maintenance and service in Knoxville, TN. With an expertly trained, ASE certified staff and the latest tools and diagnostics equipment, we can handle the services you need to get your semi or fleet prepared for the winter months ahead. Contact us to get your diesel truck or fleet cold-weather ready.