How Strong Winds Impact Truck Drivers

An average long-haul truck driver is likely to be aged 55 years, mostly white male. Twenty-three percent of trucking delays arise from heavy winds. As a result, truckers use weather tracking apps, GPS navigation systems, CB radios, and weather forecasting sites to get weather information and plan for trips.

How Strong Winds Impact Truck Drivers

  • In a social media survey conducted by FreightWaves, 4 percent of semi-trucks drivers reported that “high wind was the worst kind of weather to handle behind the wheel” because it can be strong enough to blow a truck, thus leading to an accident.
  • They have also reported that driving in strong winds is a pain — especially if the truck has a light or underweight load during high wind. ” Trucks with lighter loads have reduced traction on drive axles and are easier to blow over.”
  • Earlier this year, some truckers recounted how strong winds made driving difficult along Interstate 90. Ronald Fischer, a trucker, said, “It has been brutal, the wind. It ain’t worth it to be out here on the road.”
  • During these extreme conditions, truck drivers are faced with the decision to make the drive or not. Some make a judgment call not to be on the road with an empty trailer, while others will opt to do routine maintenance to stay safe.
  • WISN 12 News’ Adrienne Pedersen interviews Dan Zdrojewski, an experienced semi-truck driver, about driving in strong winds. According to Mr. Zdrojewski, some employers heap pressure on their truckers to deliver food on schedule in order not to disappoint their customers, regardless of the strong winds, thereby putting their truckers (and the cargo) at risk.
  • Among other weather conditions, heavy winds cause about 23% of all trucking delays. The delays result from the impact of strong winds, such as “causing debris onto the road and decreasing stability.”
  • Truckers will likely “check the weather forecast for their route and destination before getting on the road” to avoid driving in strong winds.
  • They will also inspect the load weight prior to venturing an area that has or is expecting strong winds.
  • Truckers can engage other drivers and use GPS trackers to find alternate routes and avoid driving into strong winds.

Government Regulations: Truckers And Strong Winds

  • There are few regulations governing truck drivers driving in strong winds, and the ones available refer to operating commercial motor vehicles in severe weather conditions.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 CFR Section 392.14) regulates commercial vehicles operating in strong winds. The regulation, which applies to all states, “puts a duty of extreme caution on truck drivers of commercial motor vehicles whenever any conditions negatively affect visibility or traction. This includes rain, snow, fog, ice, smoke, strong winds, and other conditions.”
  • The regulation states that “whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.”
  • State by state regulations, through the Commercial Drivers License Manual, also require truck drivers to reduce speeds by one-third if the weather becomes too dangerous, and that includes high winds.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) dictates that when operating a machine at a wind speed (sustained or gusts), “exceeding 20 mph at the personnel platform, a qualified person must determine if, in light of the wind conditions, it is not safe to lift personnel. If it is not, the lifting operation must not begin (or, if already in progress, must be terminated).”

How Truck Drivers Get Weather Information

  • A recent survey of 6000 truckers revealed that 33 percent used trucker apps to get weather updates and plan trips.
  • The best weathers apps for truckers include Intellicast HD, Storm Shield, Weather Underground, and AccuWeather.
  • Weather apps provide up-to-the-minute updates on storm and wind developments to ensure truckers plan for extreme conditions and also get to their destinations safely.
  • Many long haul trucks have GPS navigation systems that truckers can use to get quick weather alerts, providing alternating routes at a moment’s notice.
  • One of the benefits of GPS navigation systems is the ability to calculate routes according to time-sensitive weather reports to allow truck drivers to plan or change to alternative directions.
  • Smart Trucking identifies 3 best GPS for truckers navigating severe weather conditions. They include Garmin dezl 580 LMT-S, Rand McNally TND 740, and SIXGO 9 inch HD Touchscreen Truck GPS.
  • Some truckers use the Citizens Band Radio Service (CB) to receive real-time weather updates, reports on severe weather conditions and find alternate routes.
  • Approximately 50 percent of truckers currently use CB radios.
  • CB radios enable truck drivers to get road conditions and communicate with others truckers on the road. Additionally, these radios have the “ability to transmit even where there are no cellphone towers or Wi-Fi signals.”
  • CDL Life research identifies the top CB radios for truckers. They are Uniden PRO520XL CB Radio, Cobra C75WXST CB Radio, Uniden BEARCAT CB Radio, Cobra 29LX CB Radio, and Galaxy-DX-959.
  • Most truck drivers also get weather updates from The Weather Channel’s website. This channel “provide a national and local weather forecast for cities, as well as weather radar, report and hurricane coverage.”
  • In a social media survey conducted by FreightWaves, “truckers rated The Weather Channel as their top publicly available weather site.”
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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