Even though Australian winters are relatively mild compared to our nations around the world, it is still important to remember that it pays to take extra care to minimise the additional stresses imposed on trucks and other heavy vehicles.
Typical year-round challenges become more pronounced during the colder months. How to prevent and minimise problems:
- Pre-trip preparation for winter conditions
- Maintaining full visibility on the road
- Need to be aware of road safety and driver obligations
- Need for truck safety monitoring and regular scheduled servicing
To most professional drivers and supervisors these and similar instances of thinking ahead are second nature. Just the same, all are worth revisiting at this time of year.
Pre-trip preparation for winter conditions
Tyre condition, always a major concern, is even more so when rain and sleet makes road surfaces extra slippery and hazardous. Cool conditions can also reduce tyre air pressure making it essential to monitor levels and adjust them to manufacturer specifications to maximise safety. Batteries also need extra attention during winter, as cold conditions reduce the efficiency of the chemical reactions that create their charge. It is also a matter of priority to ensure first aid kits are replenished and safety reflector triangles are in good shape.
Maintaining full visibility on the road
The need for maximum visibility is a no-brainer. Make sure windshields are in good repair, clean and scratch free. Wiper blades are inexpensive and should be regularly inspected and replaced as required. Similarly, wiper arms need to be checked to ensure they apply effective pressure. Check washer fluid quality and levels. Add a suitable cleaning fluid, maybe antifreeze as well, depending on locality and conditions.
It is also essential to ensure your lights are working correctly and the faulty globes are replaced. Reflectors need to be damage-free and clean to maximise your safety and that of other drivers.
Need to be aware of road safety and driver obligations
Winter rains and flooding (even lingering water and wetness) create potholes and cause often substandard stop-gap materials used for hasty repairs to come out and make them larger and more dangerous.
If wheels strike significant holes and cracks, rim damage can easily result, sometimes with blowouts: an obvious and major hazard combination. In really cold conditions ice (often invisible) can easily form, adding the risks of aquaplaning, skids and spinouts.
Drivers need to be completely familiar with how the Automatic Braking System works and how it contributes to safety in the increased likelihood of emergencies in winter. Similarly, driver’s should also familiarise themselves with the attributes and advantages of Vehicle Stability Control. Both of these features are preventative measures.
It goes without saying that speed limits should be obeyed at all times, with extra care taken to slow down on wet roads or times of poor visibility. At these times a 'drive to survive' mentality is essential for all drivers.
Although every Hino truck is conceived, designed and engineered to meet three strict brand benefits — Quality, Durability and Reliability (QDR) — safe operation remains the responsibility of the driver.
Need for truck safety monitoring and regular scheduled servicing
Trucks are designed, engineered and tested in challenging grounds in order to operate in extreme conditions, but to ensure they perform at their best, regular scheduled servicing is recommended. This not only keeps the vehicle running in top operating condition but as a preventative aspect, it will help detect any problems before they occur. This is not just about safety; it is also about dealing with minor issues before they can become large, hazardous and costly ones.
If you are due for a service, book your truck in for a Genuine Hino Service today.