Professional Driver's Handbook

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Winter driving tips for the professional driver

Recognize the special hazards of winter driving and know the techniques needed to drive safely in spite of them. The facts are here, the rest is up to you.

  • Be able to see and be seen - Clean all the snow and ice off of your windshield, other windows, outside mirrors, lights and reflectors. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with good windshield wiper blades and that wiper arms are exerting enough pressure on the blades to ensure a clean sweep. If moisture or ice builds up on your windshield, stop and clean it off.
  • Tires - Tires with good deep treads are essential for good cornering and handling on slippery roads. Check air pressure frequently to maintain the manufacturer's recommended pressure.
  • Get the feel of the road - Occasionally, try your brakes or gently depress your accelerator while driving; adjust your speed according to existing conditions. Rising temperatures greatly reduce traction on ice and snow.
  • Stretch your following distance - Knowing that winter road surfaces may increase stopping distances three to 12 times, the smart driver increases the normal dry road following distance. Heavy trucks require longer stopping distances on slippery roads than passenger cars - don't tailgate.
  • Brake before curve - All vehicles are particularly sensitive to overpowering, oversteering and overbraking on curves. Unseen hazards around the bend may require evasive action, so turn your steering wheel slowly and smoothly, keep a constant speed in the turn, and pump the brakes carefully if it's necessary to slow down or stop.
  • Intersections - Be extra cautious at intersections where snowbanks can reduce visibility.
  • Pump your brakes - The key to stopping under control on slippery surfaces is to avoid locking the wheels. A rapid pumping of brakes will provide short intervals of braking and rolling which will enable you to maintain steering control while stopping. With air brakes your system does not apply and release as quickly as with hydraulic or electric brakes.
  • Watch for reduced clearances - These are caused by accumulated snow or ice.
  • Air tanks - Drain air tanks daily and leave them empty when not in use.


Rev: 2017