Winter Driving Tips: A Dispatcher's Advice
Wayne Hawk is a senior dispatcher with Storey Trucking. Having been with the company for over 27 years, he’s well aware of the challenges facing drivers during winter conditions.
Prepare Before You Hit the Road
“The key to safe driving in winter conditions is to always be prepared, be thinking five steps ahead, and act before you get into bad weather,” Wayne says. He suggests the following tips prior to heading out on the road:
Leave early. This gives you flexibility and doesn’t compromise good choices just because you are rushed.
Have chains with you (mandatory September 1st through May 31st).
Don’t forget your fuel conditioner for the Reefer tanks.
Pack the right clothes, head to toe. Layers, socks, and the right shoes are critical.
While You’re On the Road
As drivers are in route, the No. 1 priority in dispatch is to keep each driver safe and help them to keep moving. To do so, dispatch keeps a close eye on changing weather using sites like weather.com or each state’s DOT site with live cameras. Wayne recommends that drivers should look at those sites each time they make a stop.
“Because the driver is actually at that location, they should listen to their gut. If it’s looking spotty, check those apps on your phone — look at what you are about to drive into. And if it doesn’t feel right, call the dispatch office and we can assess and re-route you before you get into a problem,” suggests Wayne. “Communicating with dispatch before there is a big problem gives us the best chance to problem-solve for the driver.”
Exit Before It’s Too Late
Wayne encourages drivers to get off on exits several miles prior to bad weather. This gets them on a less-crowded exit where they can find a safe place to park and get something to eat. And, once dispatch knows a driver is delayed due to weather, they can give the customer a heads-up.
Because Storey is running I-80 and I-70 routes in weather-prepared Western states, they are typically clearing the roads and making Storey’s normal routes accessible. Wayne cautions drivers to stay on plowed roads or wait it out since they are usually clearing roads on a regular basis.
What is Wayne’s final reminder to drivers? “Slow down. Stay weather aware. And call us when you need us. We are here and ready to help.”
When dispatch and drivers share in the responsibility of navigating bad weather, the result is a happy driver, a satisfied customer, and a confident company (Storey) that knows our drivers are coming home safe.