7 Essential Hurricane Prep Tips for TruckersSeptember 8, 2020
Be Prepared to Stay Safe on the Roads Throughout Hurricane Season
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, spanning June 1st to Nov. 30th, has a 60% chance of bringing “above-normal activity,” experts say. In fact, they’ve predicted up to 10 hurricanes, with as many as 6 major hurricanes, this year.
Whether or not this year’s predictions are accurate, truckers need to be prepared so they can stay safe throughout hurricane season in 2020 and beyond.
Truck Accidents Caused by Adverse Weather: The Shocking Statistics
The data on weather-related 18-wheeler wrecks drives home just how important hurricane preparation is for truckers. In an average year:
- Adverse weather contributes to more than 1 in 5 crashes (nearly 1.235 million).
- About 15% of fatal wrecks are caused by adverse weather. That’s roughly 4,900 deadly accidents that result in about 5,000 traffic deaths annually.
- Adverse weather plays a role in about 19% of injury accidents. That’s more than 301,100 injury crashes, resulting in 418,000 injuries.
- About 22% of property-damage-only (PDO) crashes, nearly 919,700 wrecks, are caused by adverse weather.
- Traffic from adverse weather results in a loss of about 32.6 billion vehicle hours each year.
- In the 20 cities with the most truck traffic, weather conditions cause close to 12% of all truck delays.
- Weather delays cost motor carriers anywhere from $2.2 billion to $3.5 billion annually.
How Truckers Can Prepare to Stay Safe During Hurricane Season: 7 Tips
Given how costly, harmful, and deadly adverse weather can be, here’s what truckers can do to protect themselves and minimize the risk of 18-wheeler accidents during adverse weather events in or after hurricane season.
1. Pay attention to storm reports.
Keep up with local and national weather news. Get in the habit of checking the weather for your planned route at least 3 days before a haul.
If you’re informed about weather conditions and storm predictions, you can give yourself 3 to 7 days of lead time to prepare or make changes to your plans, if needed.
2. Plan alternative routes.
Hurricanes are notorious for being unpredictable. While experts can see how hurricanes move at sea, it can be challenging to know exactly when they may hit land and how they’ll move after landfall. So, if an upcoming haul is scheduled near or during an expected hurricane:
- Make sure you have at least one alternative route planned.
- Know where you can safely stop along your routes if you need to wait out the storm.
- Communicate your routes and plans to your supervisor or point of contact, so people know where to search for you if you don’t arrive at your destination as expected.
3. Keep your fuel tank full.
Fuel can be difficult to find and far more expensive after a hurricane. So, fill up on fuel before hitting the road. Also, do your best to keep your tank as full as possible as you make your way to your destination.
4. Know what to do if you’re caught in a storm on the road.
If adverse weather suddenly strikes while your driving, make sure you know how to safely maneuver your truck and stay out of harm’s way. Critically, truckers caught on the road during storms or hurricanes should:
- Avoid areas with high water: Pooling water can be deeper than it looks, hiding all sorts of hazards (like branches and debris) that can damage trucks and increase the risk of accidents.
- Stay away from trees and power lines: Torrential winds can take down trees and power lines, creating new obstacles in roads, along with fire and electrocution hazards.
- Be extra cautious on elevated roads and bridges: Strong winds can push heavy tractor-trailers over while also moving elevated roads and bridges.
5. Keep an emergency trucker kit in your truck.
You never know when hurricanes could leave you stranded on the road in your truck. Prepare yourself for this possibility during hurricane season by keeping an emergency kit in your truck. This kit should contain items like (but not limited to):
- Basic tools: A hammer, swiss army knife, duct tape, a flashlight, and other basic tools may be helpful in fixing some very minor problems with 18-wheelers.
- Cash and a credit card: While cash can be helpful if storms take the power out, a nationally accepted credit card can provide peace of mind that you’re able to make bigger purchases if needed.
- A backup phone and/or charger: A burner phone and/or an extra cellphone charger can ensure you have the communication devices you need to call for help before, during, or after a hurricane.
- Water and nonperishable foods: Energy bars, cans of soup, and other nonperishables can keep you nourished and energized as you wait for help.
- Medical supplies: A simple first aid kit, along with any medications you need or take routinely, are essential components of any emergency truck kit.
- Clothing: This should include an extra pair of socks and shoes, along with a hat, jacket, and any other seasonal clothing you may need to stay safe and comfortable if you’re stuck on the road for an extended period.
- Other items: Depending on your circumstances and route, you may want to include other items in your emergency kit.
6. Try to be as flexible as possible.
Being ready to change your plans or route at a moment’s notice will help you stay responsive to changing weather conditions. That can mean:
- Taking a proactive approach to rerouting (or rescheduling) your haul
- Avoiding risks that could leave you stranded or, worse yet, in a wreck
7. Always use common sense.
Remember, there’s no deadline, cargo, or job that’s worth more than your safety or anyone’s life. If an impending storm or hurricane is too close for comfort—or if you’re on the road and unsure whether to push through adverse weather—trust your gut and err on the side of caution.
There’s always an opportunity to make up trips or deliver cargo in the future. There’s never an opportunity to reverse an accident or the damage it causes once it happens.