Hurricane season in the United States Atlantic and Gulf coasts generally begin in June and ends around November. If you must drive your truck in states in the Eastern U.S. or along the Gulf Coast, be aware of hurricane-related dangers during and after storms.
Here’s what truckers should know about hurricane safety.
Stay Informed to Stay Safe
During hurricane season, your weather awareness can save your life. When you know where tropical storms and hurricanes will strike next, you can adjust your route to avoid the high winds and flooding that hurricanes produce. Always take the time to check weather forecasts and alerts for the areas where you’re driving.
Find weather sites that are easy to access on your phone or another device so you can quickly check the status of impending weather events in your location. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio is a worthwhile investment if you routinely travel in hurricane-prone areas.
Understand that a flash-flood or tornado watch means that weather conditions may cause flooding or destructive winds. A flash-flood or tornado warning means that flooding or funnel clouds have been spotted in a specific location.
Check With State DOT Sites for Road Closings
Know how to find the websites for individual state departments of transportation (DOTs). State DOT websites often provide more accurate information about road conditions than dispatchers and traffic maps can provide. DOT websites offer detailed descriptions of the highway and surface street closures in the state.
Check in with DOT websites throughout the day when you’re driving in a risky state. You’ll learn up-to-date facts about travel routes and road closures to plan the safest routes.
Heed the Barriers and Signs
Safety officials don’t install barriers across roadways to make your delivery late. They place warning signs and barriers on roads that lead to dangerous flooding. No matter how tall or heavy your truck is, if you ignore a warning sign and drive around a barrier or past a warning sign, you put yourself, your truck, and your cargo at risk.
It only takes a few feet of fast-moving water to sweep a truck into deeper waters. Barriers and warning signs should always be heeded for this reason.
Even if you know that another trucker recently passed without incident down a flooded road, a few minutes later, that same road may be fully engulfed in high water. Don’t trust word-of-mouth stories about road safety or ignore official warnings and road closures.
Floodwaters can cause:
- Holes and buckling of roads
- Sharp, tire-slashing debris in water
- Thick mud and silt on roadways
- The collapse of bridges and overpasses
- Downed power lines
Recently, a trucker in South Carolina drove over a bridge that collapsed under their semi due to Florence-related flooding. The blacktop on the bridge eroded in pieces from the pressure of rushing flood waters. The driver made it out safely, but their experience highlights the fact that you can’t see what’s under the water when a road is flooded.
Drive Slowly and Carefully in Flooded Areas
When you have no warning that the road ahead is flooded, use your best judgment to determine if you can continue down the road or not. Even low-level flooding can cause your truck to hydroplane, get stuck, or suffer mechanical damage.
If possible, watch other drivers pass through a flooded area to see how their vehicles respond. If you decide to proceed, don’t follow closely behind another vehicle on a flooded road. Give the vehicle ahead some room, so you avoid colliding if the other driver gets stuck or stops dead in a panic.
Proceed slowly into a flooded area, but not so slowly that you get stuck yourself. Maintain a constant, moderate speed so you don’t create high waves, lose steering control, or lessen other drivers’ visibility. To maintain traction, avoid using your engine brake on steep, flooded roads.
Keep your eye out for people and debris in flooded sections of road. If you encounter a flooded section on a lonely stretch of road after nightfall, turn around and find a safer route to reach your destination.
Prepare for High Winds
Storm-force winds are a serious hazard for tall semis and trailers. To maintain control in high-wind situations, keep both hands on the wheel and remain on high alert. Remember that other truckers and drivers are struggling against the wind, too.
The most unsafe places during high winds include:
- Open, exposed roads
- Highway overpasses
- Mountain passes
If you’re pulling a dry van or a reefer in high winds, you’re at a greater risk of flipping or wrecking your rig in the risky road conditions listed above. Tornadoes are sometimes spawned by high winds, too. If you find yourself in a hazardous high-wind situation or facing an oncoming funnel cloud, find a safe space to pull over and wait out the dangerous conditions.
Find a truck with all of the best safety features by contacting Arrow Truck Sales today. We offer one-stop semi-truck shopping to help you save time and get out on the road with fewer hassles.