Heavy rain can mean a lot of things for a haulage driver, and most of these are not very pleasant – ranging from road flooding and vehicle breakdown to accidents. Those who navigate the roads hauling return loads back to the depot (often late in the day) are more exposed to risks. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage, even mitigate, such risks. The following tips should help you make the best decisions.
The critical time for preparation to reduce the likelihood of accidents when hauling return loads is right before you actually set off. Planning in advance is crucial; highly important, too, is your knowledge of main roads and alternate routes. You should plan ahead to create a contingency plan in the event your regular route proves to be impassable. It is advisable to coordinate with your fleet supervisor at your headquarters and also the destination, letting them know of your departure time and estimated time of arrival, so if needs be they can make crucial decisions related to your safety. Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition including the tank being full (being caught in traffic uses up more fuel), wipers and lights functional, and mobile phone fully charged.
Of course, if the weather’s really bad and a risk to your own or others safety, then you should call it a day and simply reschedule the delivery.
On the Road
When you’re out on the road, every second and every minute counts – and each decision you make during the trip can be crucial. There are certain things you must do to maximise road safety, especially if you’re on your way back to the main depot carrying return loads. For example, you need to use your vehicle’s lights conscientiously, keeping in mind your visibility vis-à-vis how other drivers see you. Use dipped headlights and don’t use rear fog lights, to avoid dazzling those driving behind you. In slippery road conditions, it’s also highly important to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, which also means you must drive slowly and patiently to avoid losing control of your own vehicle. Most importantly, keep track of weather reports or updates on the radio or through your haulage fleet’s internal messaging system.
Never Drive Through Flooded Areas
Of course, this may be easier said than done-sometimes, you’re so desperate to reach your destination that your judgment is clouded. You could be tempted to take the risk of driving through what initially seems like ankle-deep water-only to discover to your horror that the water’s way deeper than you thought, drowning the engine. The rule is never drive through floodwater, especially if it’s fast moving. This is not only for the sake of the return loads you have in your cargo hold, but your own personal safety as well. However, if you do decide to trust your gut instincts and go for it, drive steadily and very slowly to avoid creating a bow wave that could affect other vehicles. Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and most importantly, when you emerge on the other side, test your brakes immediately to ensure they’re still functional.