Severe Weather Safety For Commercial Truck Drivers

While some severe weather comes with plenty of warning, other mild weather events can quickly turn serious. When it comes to severe weather safety, American Insurance Brokers is your go-to resource for truck drivers and fleet owners in the South. We’ve gathered some tips on how to keep yourself and your fleet safe when severe weather hits.

How Does Weather Affect A Truck Driver?


Commercial trucks practicing severe weather safety guidelines.

Everyone on the road faces challenges with severe weather. Although driving regular passenger vehicles can become tricky in harsh conditions, truck drivers have special concerns. A high-profile vehicle makes heavy winds and lashing rain harder to navigate. If you are driving an empty truck or one that only has a partial load, this can make steering even more challenging.


Truck drivers know that braking and accelerating are different than passenger vehicles, too. Weather conditions mean allowing even more time for braking and slower acceleration. Cars that misjudge a truck’s speed can cause accidents as they brake suddenly to avoid a slow-moving 18-wheeler.


Both passenger vehicles and trucks suffer from poor visibility in some types of weather. The larger profile and extra stopping time needed for trucks make driving in these conditions even harder for truckers.

What Should Truckers Do In Bad Weather?


Bad weather means thinking about safety on the road. There are suggestions and regulations from many government agencies and independent insurers, but here we break down actions you can take to protect yourself in all sorts of severe weather.




Hurricane season runs from June to November every year, with the most severe storms hitting in August and September. For the past three years, the South has seen an average of 21 hurricanes each year. In 2020, four of those were Cat 3 or above.

It’s crucial to be prepared with severe weather safety precautions before the storms hit. Stay off the roads whenever a hurricane is on the forecast. If you must drive or may get stuck on the road, here’s how to prepare.


  • Conduct a pre-trip safety inspection to make sure everything on the truck is in good working order
  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas
  • Pay attention to the projected path of the storm
  • Be patient and flexible if you need to change your route
  • Look out for downed power lines and busted gas mains
  • Slow down and drive cautiously


If you can, take shelter out of the wind and away from rising water during the worst of the weather. Some hurricanes move quickly through an area, and a few moments off the road can help ensure your safety.

Extreme heat


An estimated 1,300 people die each year due to extreme heat. This number may be even higher, and it’s projected to rise as temperatures increase globally.


Being prepared means taking a few precautions before you hit the road.


  • Ensure that cooling systems in your rig are in good working order
  • Check and fill all of your truck’s fluids (and keep extra fluids onboard)
  • Keep yourself hydrated
  • When you can, drive in the early morning and late at night when it’s cooler
  • Wear protective coverings (sunglasses, hat, etc.) when working in the heat
  • Take frequent breaks to cool off


It’s important to make sure your tires are also properly inflated. Extreme heat increases the temperature of the road and can lead to blowouts.




Tornado Alley is a swath of land that sees 30% of all tornadoes each year in the U.S. Approximately 17 million people live on these 500,000 square miles across 15 states. Of the 59 Category 5 tornadoes that have occurred in the U.S., 22 hits in Tornado Alley.


If you are a truck driver or a fleet manager across this stretch of land, make sure you are adequately insured. When a tornado touches down, the best bet is to drive the other way. Getting away from a twister can keep you safe and may save your life.


If you can’t, take a look at these severe weather safety tips to prepare for the inevitable.


  • Keep an eye out for warning signs: hail; loud, rumbling sounds; dark or greenish skies; swirling debris or clouds
  • If you can’t avoid the tornado, pull over and protect yourself
  • Stay in the truck and get low in the cab
  • Keep your truck away from structures that might collapse under heavy winds
  • If you are out of your truck and in a stable structure, stay where you are until the tornado passes


The best way to stay safe is to avoid tornadoes in the first place. Keep your radio on and listen for the emergency broadcast system. A tornado watch means conditions are ripe for tornadoes, but a warning means that one has been spotted, and you should shelter immediately.




From 1995 to 2019, nearly 1,700 people drowned in floods in the U.S. Often accompanying a tornado or hurricane, flooding occurs frequently in low-lying areas, washing out bridges and covering roadways.


Heavy, flooding rain also comes with poor visibility. Slow down to increase your braking distance and decrease the chances of hydroplaning.


There is really only one way to deal with flooding. Do not drive through standing water that you cannot see the bottom of. Many innocent-looking pools of standing water caused by hurricanes are filled with swirling debris and are deeper than you think. Water can rip bridges off of their pilings, and it can send even a fully loaded tractor-trailer downstream. When in doubt, follow this safety precaution: “Don’t drown; turn around.”


Even after storms have passed, stay alert. Flash floods can occur up to 12 hours after the skies have cleared. Pay attention to your route and be prepared to make changes to it.

Ice and snow


You may not associate ice and snow with the South, but freezing weather conditions happen in Southern states more often than you might think. The polar jet stream presses down from the north and meets damp air from the Gulf of Mexico. This collision can cause brief but potent bursts of frozen precipitation that you need to be ready for. Parts of Tennessee can get up to a foot of snow, and the mountains of Georgia frequently see icing in the winter.


If you are driving in snow, here are the severe weather safety tools you need.


  • Slow down, especially across elevated roadways and on turns
  • Watch out for wind or blowing snow that can obstruct your vision or tip your truck
  • Keep windows, mirrors, and reflective surfaces clear so others can see you
  • Run your defroster to keep windows clear (or your AC — it dries the air)
  • Stay out of the ruts that other vehicles have created (these are often packed with ice)


When it comes to ice, there is really no safe way to keep driving. If the road starts to ice, pull over. This is a difficult decision to make, but it is the truck driver’s responsibility to make sure they are safe for themselves and other motorists. Pulling off the road is the best choice.

Severe Weather Safety Starts By Being Prepared


If you start thinking about severe weather safety when you’re in the middle of it, you’re already too late. Take some simple steps before the weather hits.


Stock a safety kit in the truck


For every type of severe weather, make sure your truck is stocked with extra safety supplies, including:


  • Flares
  • Batteries
  • Hand-crank USB chargers
  • Non-perishable food and water
  • Bad weather gear (rain gear, extra coat, blanket, etc.)


Reschedule your trip


If you can avoid being on the road when severe weather is in the forecast, this is your best option. When you have to make the trip, give yourself as much time as possible, and be prepared to change your route for safety.


Make sure you have full-coverage commercial insurance


Full-coverage commercial insurance means not having to worry about losses caused by severe weather. It’s crucial to check your coverages well before you need them.

Your First Choice In The South


At American Insurance Brokers, we help trucking companies of all sizes choose the best insurance policy for their fleet. We work with companies across the South and understand how insurance is a crucial part of severe weather safety. We offer a free policy review and can make recommendations to protect your drivers and your fleet.


Get in touch today!

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