Driving in extreme weather is challenging for both driver and truck. We turned to a Scandinavian expert* to go through everything you need to know so that you and your truck are all set for snow, ice and freezing cold.
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Arne Skolden, technical tyre expert at Michelin
Arne Skolden is a Swedish technical tyre expert who has been working for Michelin for 47 years. He’s the man you want to talk to about driving in winter conditions. We asked him what’s different about winter driving. “It’s more challenging because road conditions can change quickly: you can instantly switch from summer conditions inside a tunnel to ice and snow outside, for example. And even if you’re well prepared, maybe the driver in front of you isn’t, and as a result, traffic could be blocked for hours.”
It’s impossible to anticipate everything that could go wrong: all you can do is be as well prepared as possible. Why don’t you start by following Arne’s checklist. You can even download the sum-up!
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Prepare your vehicle
Arne stresses the fact that in wintertime more than any other season, you never know what problems you might run into on the road. “If you know temperatures are going to be freezing, make sure your truck can cope and be prepared for every situation,” he says. Here is what you need to do:
· Check your antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and cooling system
· Make sure your tyres are well-suited for the weather and compliant with local legislation, which varies from country to country
· Be extra vigilant with tyre pressure: cold temperatures reduce the air pressure in your tyres, so check your pressure more often than during summer months.
· Always put security first. Arne’s advice on this subject is very clear: “Ultimately, if the weather is too rough, just don’t go. It is a tough decision to make, but nothing is worth putting your life in danger, or the life of other people.”
· Keep your truck clear of winter uncleanliness. Inspect your lights and license plate to make sure they’re free of snow and dirt, and defrost your windshield to maintain maximum visibility.
· Wash your vehicle frequently to prevent the build-up of road salt, which causes corrosion.
· In some countries, chains are mandatory. Make sure you know how to mount them, especially in freezing weather. It’s a good idea to practice beforehand.
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Adjust your truck driving
· Keep your distances, so you’re able to react when something happens – typically the vehicle in front of you suddenly stopping.
· Be wary of black ice. “When there’s snow on the road, everyone tends to drive carefully; black ice is what’s really dangerous, because it’s invisible and extremely slippery. Sometimes you can’t even stand on the road. Keep an eye out for it, especially on bridges and when temperatures are dropping fast.” One small tip: if the spray from tyres of vehicles in front of you stops, that may be a sign of black ice.
· Slow down. Keep in mind that speed limits are set for dry roads and good weather conditions.
· Drive smoothly: sharp curves, sudden accelerations and hard braking decrease adherence. Keep a steady speed and, again, stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.
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What to bring with you in your truck
· Sand and a shovel: “The most important things to have in your truck in cold weather. If you get stuck in ice, you’ll need sand to get out.”
· Warm winter clothes: overall, hat, gloves, good shoes, the whole deal. This is because the main risk with winter driving is having to wait for hours for conditions to get better or because a truck is blocking the road – and when you’re not rolling, it will get extremely cold in the cab.
· Water and food, for those same long waits stuck on the road.
· At least half a tank of gas at all times, in case the journey is longer than expected.
· A flashlight and high-visibility jacket.
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Prepare your body
· Stay in shape. Sitting behind the wheel for hours and hours is tough: your body has to be physically prepared. “The general recommendation of walking 10,000 steps a day applies to truckers too,” says Arne. “That’s how you keep your body in shape and your brain alert, which is all the more important in winter conditions.”
· Take frequent breaks: when you’re tired your reaction time gets longer. This is valid all year round, but winter driving tends to be more strenuous, which makes breaks even more necessary.
*Interview conducted on 30 July 2021
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Safety & mobility in severe winter conditions
MICHELIN X MULTI GRIP tyre is the perfect solution to ensure optimal safety in severe winter conditions. It combines excellent removal mileage thanks to increased longevity (up to 10% additional mileage potential on front tyres), outstanding grip on snow and ice even when worn, and high wet grip even on the second part of tyre life, thanks to its wet grip ensured right down to the last millimeters. What’s more, the MICHELIN X MULTI Grip is regroovable and retreadable.
Your checklist to be ready for extreme winter conditions
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