Severe Weather Safety For Commercial Truck Drivers

Stay Safe in Severe Weather  

While some severe weather comes with plenty of warning, other mild weather events can quickly turn serious. Truck drivers and fleet owners in the South trust American Insurance Brokers for severe weather safety. 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? 

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 commercial truck safety on the road. Government agencies and insurers provide suggestions and rules for protecting oneself in severe weather conditions. However, in this article, we will explain how you can protect yourself in various severe weather conditions. 



Hurricane season is from June to November, with the worst storms in August and September. On average, there are 12 – 17 named storms each year, with 5 – 9 of those becoming hurricanes. In an average year, 1 – 4 of those will be major hurricanes of 3, 4, or 5.  

Being prepared with severe weather safety precautions before the storms hit is crucial. Stay off the roads whenever a hurricane is on the forecast. If you anticipate getting stuck on the road, here’s how you can 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 when changing 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  

Extreme heat one of the deadliest weather-related health outcomes in the U.S. An estimated 1,300 people die each year because of extreme heat. The number could be even higher, and experts project it 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. 



Until recently, about one in three tornadoes occurred in an area known as Tornado Alley, which has historically been spanned northern Texas northward through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and parts of Louisiana, Iowa, Nebraska and eastern Colorado. In recent years, hotspots for tornado outbreaks have increasingly moved eastward.  

If you are a truck driver or a fleet manager across either stretch of land – the historic or the new Tornado Alley – 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, 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. Tornado watch indicates the possibility of tornadoes, warning indicates the sighting of one, seek shelter immediately. 



In an average year, more than 100 people will die in a flood. In fact, heat is the only weather-related hazard that causes more deaths than flooding. Why? Because many people don’t take the threat of flooding seriously.  

This is an even bigger issue for truck drivers, as nearly half of all flood-related fatalities are vehicle-related. 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 are filled with swirling debris and are deeper than you think. Water can rip bridges off 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. 


OSHA Guidelines for Winter Weather  

OSHA stresses the need for safety when commercial drivers drive in winter. Winter road conditions can be dangerous, especially in snowy and icy areas. To mitigate these risks, OSHA advises several key strategies, grouped under the three P’s of Safe Winter Driving:  

  • Prepare 
  • Protect 
  • Prevent  

Commercial trucks practicing severe weather safety guidelines.


OSHA recommends vehicle maintenance. This includes checking the battery, tires, and wipers. It also involves keeping windows clean and using no-freeze fluid in the washer. You should also carry essential items like. It’s also advised to carry essential items like: 

  • Flashlights 
  • Jumper cables 
  • Abrasive materials (such as sand or kitty litter) 
  • A shovel 
  • Snow brush 
  • Ice scraper 
  • Warning devices (like flares) 
  • Blankets 
  • Food, water, and medication 

In case you’re stopped or stalled, stay in the truck, avoid overexertion, use bright markers to signal for help, and run the car just enough to stay warm while ensuring the exhaust pipe is clear. 

Plan your route carefully, allowing extra time for travel, familiarizing yourself with the directions, and informing others of your route and expected arrival time. OSHA also advises practicing cold weather driving techniques in safe, open areas to prepare for ice and snow conditions. 


Protect Yourself 

Always buckle up. 


Prevent Crashes 

OSHA recommends several safety measures for driving. These include driving at a slower speed and maintaining a greater distance between cars. 

Being vigilant of pedestrians is also important. To avoid driver fatigue, it is crucial to get enough rest before driving. Additionally, taking breaks every three hours and considering switching drivers, if possible, are effective strategies. 

OSHA rules keep drivers safe in winter by preventing accidents and ensuring safer travel on snowy and icy roads. 

Know Your Rights in Severe Weather  

The STAA, or Surface Transportation Assistance Act, protects commercial drivers from being penalized or dismissed by their employer for refusing to operate a commercial motor vehicle on highways if doing so would breach Federal safety regulations.  

The STAA protects drivers who refuse to drive a commercial vehicle because they believe it is unsafe. They give this protection if they think driving it could cause serious harm to themselves or others. 

In short, if you do not believe driving is safe, no one can lawfully compel you to do so.  

Severe Weather Safety for Truck Drivers 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 

Make sure you stock your truck with extra safety supplies, including those for every type of severe weather: 

  • 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. 

Steps to Take After a Commercial Truck Accident 

Knowing what to do if a commercial truck accident occurs during bad weather is crucial. It helps to minimize risks and effectively handle the situation. American Insurance Brokers offers valuable advice for drivers and fleet managers to navigate these incidents. 

  1. Stop and Secure the Area: Immediately stop your vehicle after an accident. If possible, move to a safe location away from traffic. This step is essential, even for minor incidents, to avoid further complications. 
  2. Call for Help: Once safe, contact emergency services by calling 911. You should make this call regardless of the accident’s severity, as police reports and medical assistance can be vital.
  3. Set Up Emergency Signals: If it’s safe, set up alert devices such as triangles or flares around the accident scene. This helps in warning other road users and preventing additional accidents. 
  4. Exchange Information: Collect and exchange essential details with the other involved parties. This includes driver’s license information, insurance details, and vehicle identification numbers (VINs). 
  5. Document the Scene: Take pictures or videos of the accident scene using your phone. Capture signs, road conditions, car damage, and other important details. These visuals can be crucial for insurance and legal purposes. 
  6. Find Witnesses: If there are bystanders willing to provide an account of the accident, get their contact information. Their testimony could be significant in determining fault and understanding the accident dynamics. 
  7. Contact Your Insurance Company: Notify your insurer about the accident as soon as possible. They will guide you through the claim process and liaise with other involved parties’ insurance companies.  
  8. Prevention and Preparedness: For fleet owners, ensuring that all employees are well-versed in these steps is vital. Regularly review safety procedures and ensure your fleet has comprehensive insurance coverage. 

Remember, accidents can happen to even the most experienced drivers. Being prepared and knowing what actions to take can minimize the consequences of a truck accident. This, in turn, contributes to a safer road environment for you, your drivers, and other road users.

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 help companies in the South with insurance for truck drivers during severe weather to ensure their safety. We offer a free policy review and can make recommendations to protect your drivers and your fleet. 


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