When the Gales of November Come Early . . .


Living in Michigan, one is surrounded by the Great Lakes and its ships. In its day, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship on the Great Lakes. Today marks the 40th anniversary of the day on November 10, 1975 when the Fitzgerald went down with its crew.

Nobody really knows what happened. It’s still a mystery. The Fitzgerald reported some problems and then it was gone. There were no survivors. The ship and its crew were memorialized in the 1976 hit song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

November is a Time of Transition

We don’t want to think about it, but somewhere in the U.S., depending on the altitude and location, it’s already snowing and blowing. Now is the time to be proactive and start thinking about the cold weather.

This not only means winterizing the fleet, but developing a winter mindset as well. Get ready for the cold starts, frozen brake lines and sticky fifth wheel locking mechanisms.

Here are some often overlooked areas . . .

Make sure all the grease buildup on the fifth wheel is removed in and around the lock jaw, throat and the pivot points. Degrease, clean, and inspect the fifth wheel. Follow the manufactures’ guidance. Be sure to lube it with water-resistant lithium grease — on all of the fifth wheel-to-trailer contact surfaces. This needs to be done.

Be aware of new “solid precipitation” laws that cover snow, ice, hail and sleet on a moving motor vehicle. States without specific snow/ice removal laws may charge drivers for “negligent driving” — or operating in a way that endangers or is likely to endanger another person or property.

Southern drivers . . . if you are delivering in the snow belt, note that your tires will be warm coming off the road. Parking on the snowpack in a truckstop or dock may result in the warm tires melting the snow and forming ice. Don’t spin the drive wheels. Feather the fuel. If the drives start to spin, then stop.  Try the interlock, if the truck is equipped with one. Another winter tactic is to start off in a gear or two higher. This helps to keep the wheels from spinning. Sand should help stop a spin. Backing up and placing a chain under the tire may provide traction. Don’t spin your wheels is always sound advice.

Control of speed in inclement weather is essential. The contact patch of each tire is a little more than the palm of one’s hand. This means that slamming on the brakes on a snow-covered road can easily result in a jack-knife or the truck doing a 180-degree turn. Ice or wet ice is much worse . . .

 jackknifed while avoiding an accident


Raleigh, NC— On Monday, this truck jackknifed while trying to avoid an accident.




When the Gales of November Come Early

When the gales of November come early, we need to change our driving mind-set. Everything just takes longer from the get-go. Slow down on those wet or snow-covered roads and get set to enjoy the ride.

Thank you for reading this.