Temperatures across the nation have been crossing extremes the past few weeks. Freezing temps are chilling the Midwest. Fires are raging in California. And extreme heat is blanketing much of the country.
If these trends continue, truckers will be facing a lot of extreme heat in the coming season, especially because drivers cross multiple state boundaries when driving OTR.
Even within a single state, temperatures can vary significantly. For example, if you are trucking through Texas, expect high-20s low-30s if you’re coming from California, and mid-70s if you are exiting through the east.
And of course, one challenge with truck driving is that you can’t bring everything with you. Packing everything you need into the cab is a challenge itself. So here are three necessary tips to stay safe during extreme temperatures.
1. Check the Forecasts Daily.
Extreme temperatures can often bring extreme shifts and unpredictability. Many drivers are used to checking the weather onetime, maybe a week before they head out.
Don’t make this mistake. Check the multiple-day forecasts and do it often. And do it while you’re on the road heading into other states as well.
To save time, try to use a weather map, so you can see what things are like in the area you are heading to without having to manually put the city name in.
2. Layer Up
If you’re crossing from one extreme temperature to another in a single day, you’ll want to save time without multiple changes of clothing. Truck drivers know that time = miles = money, so layers are your best bet.
When putting on clothing, start with a light undershirt. On top of this, add a thin, loose thermal shirt to create a pocket of warm air between the layers. Thermal shirts should keep you warm, but they won’t be uncomfortable or bulky while you’re sitting in the cab.
For colder temperatures, throw on a heated jacket equipped with coils that produce heat. These flame resistant coils wrap around your body and include the ability to regulate temperature. And get one with a hood, so the wind doesn’t freeze your head and neck, especially if you have to tarp your load.
As for your lower half, until temps start getting in the single digits, feel free to wear your favorite jeans, socks, and shoes. That way when you get to warmer weather all you have to do is remove the layers from your upper half.
But if you notice the extended forecast shows single-digit temps in an area you are going to or through, pack and wear wool socks as well as long johns to be safe. Although these are not as easy to remove as the upper articles of clothing, the layers will provide a good deal of protection from the chill.
3. Pack Strategically
As discussed, packing is a valuable skill for a driver. By packing plenty of light undershirts and thin thermals, you can save quite a bit on storage space.
Areas with temperatures lower than 32 degrees stand a pretty good chance of throwing ice and snow your way, which means you’ll need strong waterproof boots in the icy regions, as well as the shoes you normally wear in warmer weather. Also, be sure to pack a pair of wool gloves and hat. That said, how you pack everything matters.
One of the best options we have found is the rolling method. To accomplish this technique, do the following for each article of clothing.
- Fold in half
- Roll from the bottom to the top
When done correctly, these bundles can fit snugly into your travel bags. Try to place all your undershirts and jeans on one side, leaving room for thermals as well as other cold weather clothing on the other.
By doing so, it will be easier to grab the temperature friendly outfit you need in a speedy manner.
These quick and easy tips will keep you warm, save you space, and help you drive through extreme temperature shifts. How do you handle it? Let us know in theClass A Drivers forums.