A Primer On Speed Management – Part II

Welcome back to our second Part in our three-Part series on practicing proper speed management. Last time we took a look at the basics of speed management. Today we will dive into specific road conditions and how you should manage your speed when operating under those specific conditions.

So get ready as we dig into the following road conditions and why maintaining proper speed control is so important:

  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Ice

The fact is, under any of these conditions, traction is necessary to maintain control of the vehicle. The less friction between a vehicle’s tires and the road, the less traction you’ll have. And when certain conditions reduce traction, lower speeds are necessary.

Speed Management in the Rain

Obviously, rain can affect a vehicle’s traction in a number of ways. As rain begins to fall, it mixes with oils on the road, causing them to rise to the surface, and until more rain washes the oil away, there will be a slippery layer between your vehicle’s tires and the road. These road conditions can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Also consider that new pavement is more slippery when it’s wet than old pavement is. The reason behind this is that new pavement has a greater concentration of oils on it that has yet to be washed away by years of rain.

If you see white foam on the road, that is an indication of water and oil mixing. Immediately reduce your speed to prevent a loss of traction.

Heavy rains that result in standing water on the roadways can also cause your vehicle’s tires to lose traction. When this happens, and your tires skim on the road’s surface, this is called hydroplaning. The faster you are traveling over the road’s surface in these conditions, the greater the chance you could hydroplane and find yourself in an unsafe situation.

Remember, even a fully loaded trailer can hydroplane with very little water on the road, so when it rains, make sure to reduce your vehicle’s speed by at least one-third.

Speed Management on Snow

Slowing down when it’s snowing isn’t merely for traction and vehicle control purposes, but also for visibility purposes. A light, powdery snow will often blow off the road and you won’t have to worry about it, but the more it accumulates, the slicker the road’s surface will become.

Heavier, packed, slushy snow can have a serious impact on your ability to control the vehicle. If the snow becomes hard packed, it can turn to ice.

While rain requires a one-third reduction in speed, driving a semi-truck in snowy conditions required a speed reduction by half. Always remember that when determining what your vehicle speed should be in snowy conditions, you must be confident that you can both safely stop and maneuver.

Speed Management on Ice

Nowhere is speed management more important than when you are driving in icy conditions. An icy road presents more dangers than rainy or snowy roads combined, especially for a large commercial vehicle with a heavy load. And when temperatures are freezing, you have to be especially careful for black ice.

When temperatures drop rapidly, black ice forms. In these conditions the road looks wet, but is actually covered in a thin layer of slick ice.

The best way to check and see if ice has formed on the road is to check your mirrors and antenna. If they are icy, you must slow down. As with snow, your speed should be dictated by confidence in your stopping distance and maneuverability. When operating in icy conditions, you must reduce your speed by at least half, if not more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of speed management. Join us next time when we cover road shapes, using cruise control and accidents and penalties related to speeding.