For many tow truck drivers, winter is the busiest season. With drivers sliding off the road, batteries failing in the cold, and more, there’s a lot of towing to be done in the winter. Whether you’re a roadside service driver or a repossession driver, here are a few winter tow truck driver safety tips to keep you on the road this winter.
Before You Leave for Winter Towing Jobs
You can keep yourself safe this winter by taking a few extra steps before you hit the road. It doesn’t matter what type of towing you’re doing — from helping those who have been in accidents to towing repo vehicles — winter driver safety is always important.
Stock Your Truck with First-Aid Kit
When the chilly weather hits, make sure your tow truck is stocked with a first-aid kit. Basic first-aid items like band-aids, gauze, and triple-antibiotic ointment can come in handy no matter the weather, but the threat of accidents is always greater in the winter.
Keep Spare and Extra Warm Clothing in Your Truck
In the event that something does happen while you’re driving this winter, it’s important to make sure you’ve got everything you need. Always dress warmly for your winter workdays, and keep a spare pair of boots, gloves, and even a sweatshirt and extra pair of pants in your vehicle. As you know, towing isn’t an easy job, and if something happens, you don’t want to be stuck in the cold weather without warm, dry clothes.
Check Your Truck Before You Leave
Your truck is your #1 asset on the road. If it’s not working, you’re not working. While most repo and roadside assistance companies keep their trucks in top shape, it’s still worth it to give your truck a once-over before you head onto the wintery streets. Not sure what you’re looking for?
If you have a wrecker, take a look at the manufacturer’s website. If you have a slide-in wheel lift like the Minute Man XD, check out our blog on preparing your wheel lift for the winter.
While You’re Towing Vehicles in the Winter
Once you’ve gone through the before-you-leave tips, you’ll be ready to hit the road. Here are some tips to keep you safe while you’re actually driving your tow truck this winter.
It’s a good reminder for everyone — not just tow truck drivers — but speed limits are posted for regular, non-snowy conditions. If the speed limit is 55, but it’s snowing buckets, it’s worth it to slow down. The slower you go, the more control you have, and the more reaction time you have if something goes wrong on the road ahead of you.
Use Your Brakes Sparingly
In the winter, roads are slick and icy. The best way to avoid a dangerous situation is to drive slow, and avoid slamming on the brakes even if you do have an ABS system. Sudden pressure on your brakes can cause fishtailing, and the extra weight of another vehicle behind you adds up to a very bad situation. Drive slowly and use your brakes to gradually bring your truck to a stop
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
After ice and poor road conditions, other drivers are your biggest risk and challenge when driving in the winter. Always give yourself plenty of time to turn, brake, and accelerate. Turn your blinker on earlier than you might in good weather, and leave plenty of space between you and other drivers. The more space you put between your tow truck and other drivers, the safer you are likely to be.
Watch Out for Black Ice
Ice is one of the most dangerous hazards for winter tow truck drivers. Black ice is almost impossible to see. Know where to expect it — on overpasses and bridges where cool air below the road causes ice to form sooner. And to avoid any problems on ice and black ice, drive slowly and use your brakes cautiously.
Increase Your Visibility
Tow truck drivers are in the most danger in the winter when they’re outside of the vehicle. You have to get out to secure the towed vehicle to your tow truck, and that can be dangerous in bad weather, especially if you’re on a busy road or expressway. Do your best to make you and your tow truck as visible as possible in the winter. Flashing lights, bright clothing, and orange construction cones do a great job of letting other drivers know where you are. When they know you’re there, they can get over and let you do your work safely.
Winter tow truck driving is hard work. It’s cold, and rough roads can make the job especially difficult. The Minute Man XD Slide-In Wheel Lift can make your life a lot easier through the winter months. Let’s talk about what it can do for your business. Give us a call at 877-593-6959 or contact us online today.