5 Considerations to Better Protect Your Motor Truck Cargo During this Holiday Season
Winter weather brings with it extra hazards that must be considered for safe motor truck cargo travel. Roads become icy, snow and sleet are unpredictable, and cargo may be affected by freezing temperatures. Driving a large truck is already difficult and requires a lot of caution, so it is extra important that drivers and business owners are aware of additional risks during the holidays. Fortunately, there are some preparations you can make to protect your fleet this holiday season.
1. Invest in Motor Truck Cargo Insurance
It’s important to protect your valuables with insurance at any time of year. The same way you invest in health, car, and life insurance, it is crucial that you protect the cargo you transport, which may be worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. While that cargo is in your possession or the possession of one of your truckers, it is yours and/or their responsibility. The last thing you want to have to deal with during the busy holiday shipping season is an accident that causes cargo damages or losses. Fees can add up astronomically, so there is no good reason to take a chance and transport cargo without it. Plus, it is a requirement in most states that truckers are insured. Motor truck cargo insurance protects against common cold weather driving hazards, such as:
- Icy roads/black ice
- Braking/acceleration issues
- Lack of visibility
Accidents happen, especially during the winter. In fact, about 17% of car accidents each year occur in snowy conditions. According to AAA, it can take an average car about 10 times longer to stop completely on icy roads. This is, of course, amplified for trucks carrying massive amounts of heavy cargo, so extra precautions are necessary. Making sure you are protected with comprehensive motor truck cargo insurance is a key first step. The risk is never worth it.
2. Monitor the Weather
Trip preparation is more important than ever during the winter. When transporting cargo via truck, you’re probably traveling through many different geographical areas. These areas may be unfamiliar to you, or may have varying climates and topography. Do your research before setting out on a trip. If you are traveling cargo that is especially sensitive to cold weather, make sure that it is properly packed and insulated for freezing temperatures. Some types of cargo may be damaged or even destroyed this way. It’s best to cover your bases and make sure you’ve done everything you possible can to ensure your cargo is as protected as possible.
Additionally, if your truck is traveling through harsh-weather environments, it can be affected by the cold and fail to properly safeguard your cargo. Make sure that you know ahead of time what kind of weather you will be experiencing and what the terrain is like along your route. Weather changes fast, so try to stay as apprised of any updates as possible. If there is a sudden snowstorm or other similar winter weather event, make sure to do whatever is necessary to protect your cargo, even if that means getting off the roads.
3. Make Sure Your Truck Is in Optimal Condition
Before truckers can transport cargo, trucks have to pass pre- and post-trip inspections. This is especially critical during the winter. In addition to regular inspection requirements, special emphasis should be placed upon the following:
- Coolant systems – It is important to make sure your truck’s anti-freeze system is strong enough to handle freezing temperatures. Pressure test your coolant system on a cold engine and ensure that it is at 15-19 psi after turning on heater control valves. You should also pressure test your radiator cap at 5psi minimum and check all heater and water hoses for cracks. Tighten any loose hose clamps, and consult a mechanic immediately if hoses are especially hard or soft.
- Maintain your diesel – In cold temperatures, diesel can freeze, which can be a major hazard. Diesel gels when it gets too cold, which means your truck won’t run. You can prepare for this by adding anti-gel additive to your fuel tanks before adding fuel. It’s best to keep anti-gel additives in your cab during the winter.
- Tire pressure – Tires are, of course, especially affected by cold weather due to their direct exposure to icy roads. It is always important to make sure your tire pressure is in order, but even more so during the winter. Cold weather can cause your tires to underinflate, which causes wear-and-tear and hurts fuel mileage.
4. Stock the Necessary Motor Truck Cargo Equipment
Even if your truck passes inspection and your mechanic has repaired any issues, there’s always a chance you might have to deal with a breakdown. Tires pop, accidents happen, and it’s important to be prepared for anything that could jeopardize your cargo or, much more importantly, your life. Make sure that your cab is stocked with emergency supplies, such as:
- Cold-weather clothing and gear
- A shovel
- Waterproof gloves
- A reflective vest
- First-aid kit
- Phone charger
- Anti-gel additive
If your truck experiences issues, you may be able to save your cargo from damage or loss if you are prepared. Having the right tools available can make all the difference, especially if it means being more able to increase your visibility and get roadside assistance. A collision in the dark winter weather can be catastrophic, so it’s critical that you make sure your truck is out of the way and visible to other drivers, and that you can call for help and stay warm regardless of where you break down.
5. Build Time into Your Trip
During the winter, it is impossible to complete trips as quickly as you might during other seasons. The roads are often slick and icy, and weather can be unpredictable. More accidents occur during the winter, which can add lots of time to any trip. Consider this while mapping out your trip, especially if it will affect your cargo in any way. Always make sure to build extra time into your route and drive slow and carefully. Consider the type of cargo you are hauling when making these plans, as some types may have expiration dates or other time-sensitive contents.
If you are looking to protect yourself or your company with motor truck cargo insurance this holiday season, contact us today or request a free quote. OspreyWatch, powered by Osprey Underwriters can help match you based on your specific needs and safeguard your business against trucking winter weather hazards.