Safe winter driving tips for food trucks
Image courtesy of iStock
Danielle Easton is a marketing executive for Coxwell & Associates, which provides legal representation to clients in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense and malpractice.
Author's Note: This blog is intended for general information purposes and is not a substitute for legal advice.
By Danielle Easton
When you drive a food truck, you are not just driving a vehicle or a method of transportation, you are driving an entire business. Whether it's your own business or you are driving for someone else, it's a huge responsibility.
Food trucks in particular can be unwieldy; cooking equipment is often large and heavy and can cause your vehicle to be less than perfectly balanced. The size of the vehicle also makes driving considerably more difficult than driving your everyday runaround car, especially if you're more used to your little car than you are your big food truck.
Driving becomes even more dangerous in the winter months when rain and snow can make driving treacherous. Here are some tips to help you drive safely in winter and avoid accidents.
1) Service your vehicle regularly
There are enough unforeseen variables that can cause an accident, whether it's your fault or not. But there are certain things that you are in control of, like the condition of your vehicle. Look after your vehicle properly, and you will go a long way to avoiding accidents and mishaps.
Make sure your tires are well-treaded and pumped to the correct pressure. Replace them if necessary and do not wait until the last minute. Check your brakes and shocks, and make sure all your light bulbs and brake lights are working. The best way is to go to a reputable mechanic and get your vehicle serviced and properly checked.
2) Use windscreen wipers
It's a basic and a relatively cheap thing to fix on your vehicle, but you'd be surprised how many people neglect this. Ever been caught in a massive downpour and had your wipers not work? Not fun, not to mention downright dangerous. Make sure to check your oil, water and fuel levels regularly, this is even more important when embarking on a long journey.
3) Be prepared
Forewarned is forearmed. We don't wear seatbelts because we think we're going to have an accident, we do so just in case. By being prepared for any eventuality, you may not prevent an accident, but you‘ll be able to respond appropriately and hopefully limit any damage. Even better, with the right tools and some limited knowledge, you'd be surprised at how many small things you can fix by yourself. Know your limits, though.
How prepared you need to be depends on the travel distance and the region you are travelling in. If you're driving a long distance in desolate areas, you'll need additional emergency supplies and equipment, especially if the mercury has dipped below freezing point.
Here are some of the basics that might well get you out of a tight spot one day.
- First aid kit. Everyone should carry a basic first aid kit in their car, as you never know when you'll need it. Food truck owners even more so as they'll be preparing food in a confined space. Sharp knives, hot flames and hungry customers make for a possibly perilous environment. A first aid kit can turn a possible disaster into a minor mishap.
- A torch. If you do break down in the middle of the night, possibly in the middle of nowhere, you're going to need and want a torch. This will make locating any tools or gear easier and allow you to peak under the hood to see if you can fix the problem. An important basic to keep in your truck, make sure the batteries are charged. Yes, your phone probably has a torch, but it chews battery life, and you really want to keep your phone operational.
- A map. Old school, good old fashioned street maps are still critical to anyone who gets lost on the roads. GPS and Google maps are great as long as you have a signal and your phone is working. When these things fail, your street map will get you to the gig on time.
- A deicer, an ice scraper and a shovel. When the roads are icy and it's snowing, you will need an ice scraper for your windscreen, a deicer, and a shovel to dig you out of the snow if you get stuck.
- Jump leads. Another basic item that you should carry in your car/truck all the time.
4) Take it easy
When driving, the words “take it easy” are the best advice anyone can offer. Don't speed and don't get aggressive and aggravated on the road; arrive a little late rather than not at all. Taking it easy is even more important in the winter when the roads are slippery. Leave earlier than you need and make sure you have plenty of time to get to your destination without being a danger to yourself or others.