Winter’s In the Rear-View, but Spring Brings Its Own Challenge

April showers may bring May flowers, but they can also bring wet, slippery, mucky roads and dangerous driving conditions. With our heads turned toward the coming good weather, we often forget how treacherous the roads can be in early, and even late, spring.

Mud Can Mess Up More Than A Laneway

Our milk drivers in the ETW division probably face the most challenging conditions. They have to worry about getting stuck in the mud and slush. Remember, they’re driving large, heavy tank trailers, and dairy farms can be rather mucky and muddy, especially during spring rains.

Imagine, for a moment, getting your tank trailer stuck in mud! No regular tow truck is going to be able to pull you out. What you need is a heavy wrecker, and that’s a lot more expensive than a regular tow.

If a truck gets stuck in the mud, the driver has to call the dispatcher and the terminal manager, who will send for a towing service.

This could set up a chain reaction within the whole milk route. Milk, being a perishable item, must be delivered promptly; it can be held in the tank for only so much time. The other problem arises with the driver’s hours of service. The clock is still ticking for the driver if his truck is stalled, and that can mean problems for the team’s personnel planning.

That is one of our major spring challenges.

At Least Truck Maintenance Gets Easier

Let’s face it—who doesn’t want to be outdoors in good weather? Our drivers, like everyone else, prefer it as well. It’s definitely easier for drivers to enjoy completing their pre-trip inspections when it’s not a freezing four degrees outside.

Truck maintenance tends to be easier in the spring for a number of reasons. There are differences in the type of fuel that is used in the winter and spring. In winter, fuel has a tendency to gel up, so it must be supplemented with additives in order to dilute the fuel and make it usable. That is something we don’t need to worry about in the springtime.

Sometimes there can be fewer repairs required, since, for example, we don’t have to worry about truck batteries failing in the springtime.

Potholes: Bad For Cars, Good For Business

Saying goodbye to cold weather means saying hello to the potholes that Old Man Winter leaves behind. But that’s good news, in a way, for Wadhams ARG Trucking division. This is a busy time of the year for us because the asphalt season begins when the road crews start fixing the potholes and repairing the roads.

We have specially designed tankers that haul asphalt because it is extremely hot, around 300°F. Our trucks are all required to be placarded to indicate the hazardous nature of their cargo so that, in the case of an accident, no one would approach them too quickly. The trucks are all insulated so that the asphalt remains at the proper temperature until it reaches its destination.

The load is taken to a specific site, where the hot asphalt is pumped out and mixed with stones to make blacktop for road construction. Our job ends when we deliver the asphalt to the plant.

Dressing for the Job

Since safety is a priority for our company, our HAZMAT drivers all wear uniforms that are flame-retardant. Long sleeves and gloves add to their protection. Depending on the load they carry, they may also be required to wear a flame-retardant suit.

Winter hauling can be unpleasant, and even dangerous, and we all heave a sigh of relief when it’s over. But spring brings its own challenges, and it’s certainly no time to take our foot off the accelerator when it comes to safety.

Don Guay

Don Guay

A 23-year veteran of the New York State Troopers, Don Guay spent six years with the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit doing roadside inspections. Today, he uses his experience and training to ensure RIST drivers and equipment adhere to the highest standards. As safety manager, Don is responsible for overseeing inspection reports, safety department checks, investigations, and training. He jokes that he left the “dark side” and came to the good side, representing and protecting RIST drivers, our customers and their freight, and the general motoring public. Safety is more than a checklist; it is our top priority.