April 21, 2023
As the seasons change from winter to spring, the roads undergo a significant transformation. Snow and ice melt, temperatures rise, and road conditions can become unpredictable. For professional drivers operating Class-A Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), this transition period requires careful attention to ensure safe driving practices.
During the winter-to-spring transition, weather conditions can change rapidly, with snow and ice melting and creating wet and slippery road surfaces. Stay informed about the weather conditions along your route by checking weather forecasts and road condition reports before and during your trip. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and adjust your driving accordingly. Reduce your speed and increase following distance to allow for longer stopping distances on wet or slippery roads.
Download the new Idaho 511 app to your phone. While is isn't a dedicated trucking app, it has trucking information settings that users can turn on if they choose. 511 is a public service of the Idaho Transportation Department to help travelers access information about road conditions, traffic incidents, weather, and tourism information via the phone, on the web, or by smartphone app, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. 511 provides continual updates about weather-related road conditions, road work, commercial vehicle restrictions, road closures, and other travel information.
Perform a thorough inspection of your Class-A CMV before hitting the road. Check the tires for proper tread depth and inflation, as wet roads can increase the risk of hydroplaning. Inspect your brakes, wipers, lights, and other critical components to ensure they are in good working condition. Make sure your defrosting and heating systems are functioning properly, as foggy windows can hinder visibility during spring mornings. Adequate vehicle maintenance is crucial for safe driving in any weather condition.
The freeze-thaw cycles during the winter-to-spring transition can create potholes on the roads. Keep an eye out for potholes as they can damage your tires, suspension, and other vehicle components. Slow down and try to avoid potholes when possible, but if you can't avoid them, reduce your speed before hitting the pothole to minimize the impact. These freeze-thaw cycles can also create frost heaves on the roads, which are created when snow and ice under the pavement contracts or expands which then causes wrinkles or cracks in the road. Known by many as "nature's speed bumps", the best thing a driver can do is slow down and be vigilant in areas known to contain these road hazards.
As the snow melts, it can cause flooding on roads, especially in low-lying areas or near rivers and lakes. Avoid driving through flooded areas as they can be dangerous and damaging to your vehicle. If you encounter a flooded road, turn around and find an alternate route. Remember that even shallow water can cause your Class-A CMV to lose traction and become uncontrollable. Always check your local weather stations or apps to determine if any flood warnings or hydrologic outlooks have been issued for your area or for an area you will be heading to.
As the weather gets warmer, pedestrians and wildlife may become more active near roads. Be mindful of pedestrians, especially in urban areas and around schools or residential areas. Watch for wildlife, such as deer or other animals, crossing the road, particularly in wooded or rural areas. Stay alert and be prepared to react to unexpected encounters with pedestrians or wildlife and watch for traffic signs, there will be signs posted in school zones or wildlife crossing areas to alert drivers of the increased traffic along that route.
In conclusion, navigating Class-A CMVs through the winter-to-spring transition requires careful attention to your vehicle itself, changing road conditions, weather alerts and patterns, and potential moving hazards that will become more active as temperatures rise.