Truck driving offers a consistent income throughout the entire year, regardless of the weather. Most new truck drivers know to expect difficulties as they take to the road during the winter. However, just because summer doesn’t threaten black ice and blizzards doesn’t mean that summer driving doesn’t require specific precautions.
As you anticipate summer long hauls, you should take steps to ensure that you and your truck are prepared for the challenges of extreme heat and unforgiving direct sunlight for every mile of your route.
In this blog, we discuss the fundamental steps you can take to ensure that you weather your first summer as a truck driver — and every future summer as well — with as few issues as possible.
Calculate Traffic Into Your Route
During the summer, roads can become particularly congested. Not only do many individuals and families take road trips to vacation destinations during the warm months, but construction crews repair and expand roadways during this period as well.
Track traffic reports and calculate these delays into your route to prevent late drop-offs.
Check Your Cooling System
The last issue you want to deal with during the summer is driving for long periods of time without air conditioning or with an overheated engine. Before the first heat wave strikes, assess your radiator, check your antifreeze levels, and test your cooling system.
You may also want to change your cabin air filter to optimize your air conditioner’s performance.
Choose Appropriate Clothing
As counterintuitive as it may seem, the best clothing for summertime trucking consists of long sleeves and head coverings. These articles of clothing reduce your risk of serious sunburns and protect you from the worst of the heat transfer through your windows and windshield.
Inspect Your Tires
Extreme heat encourages blowouts, especially in improperly inflated or worn-out tires. Before you begin summertime driving, check your tire tread depth to ensure that you have adequate traction and a lower risk of flats. Check your tire pressure regularly during the summer as well.
Make a Habit of Checking the Weather
While summer may not have the vicious snow, sleet, and hail of winter, summer storms can come on quickly. Many of these serious storms occur when cold fronts meet warm air. This occurrence is one of the major factors in tornado formation especially.
In addition to tracking traffic patterns, make a habit of checking weather forecasts for flood, lightning storm, and tornado advisories that may affect your safety on the road.
Pack Plenty of Water
You may assume that because you are less physically active on a long haul that you don’t need to stay as hydrated. However, because of the high temperatures and direct sunlight of summer conditions, dehydration can become a serious issue very quickly. Intense dehydration could even make it unsafe for you to drive.
Pack plenty of water in addition to your favorite on-the-road beverages. Remember, soda can make you more dehydrated, not less. Additionally, you should place large bottles of water in your cab for emergencies.
Pop Your Hood
In addition to your cooling systems and tires, you should also check and service the primary systems in your engine. Pay particular attention to your battery, belts, and hoses because these components tend to be most vulnerable to excessive heat.
Be sure to change your oil and top off your fluids before your first summertime long haul as well.
Stock Up on Sunscreen
Even if you wear long sleeves and a hat every day that you’re on the road, your face and neck can still be exposed to bright sunlight for hours at a time. Choose a high SPF sunscreen and apply this protection every few hours while you drive in order to prevent sunburns.
Even minor sunburns can contribute to dehydration and be highly uncomfortable. Additionally, serious sunburns can blister and require professional medical care that may impede your ability to operate your truck.
Update Your Roadside Emergency Kit
You likely already have a roadside emergency kit that includes flares, cones, and other essentials. Your emergency summertime water supply is technically part of this kit as well. However, you shouldn’t consider your kit complete without cooling items that you can use if you’re stranded in a hot area.
These items may include break-and-use cold compresses, spray bottles, and a personal fan. You may also want to consider filling a cooler with ice and reusable compresses to keep your water cold and provide a little extra cooling if necessary while you’re on the road.
Follow the practices outlined above to ensure that you have the equipment you’ll need and that you have completed appropriate maintenance services before temperatures begin to climb. You may also want to ask more experienced truck drivers for their personal advice about addressing summer driving challenges. With proper preparation, you can make your summer drives as stress-free as possible.