Slick roads 101

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by TripleSix, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. TripleSix

    TripleSix God of Roads

    Apr 10, 2009
    Copied in Hell
    Okay gang, for those of you who prefer to feel safe in a parking lot, ignore this post. For those of you who want to learn how to drive on slick roads, or possibly be an owner operator, this one is for you.

    The freezing rain started yesterday afternoon. I left out around midnight. Trucks were crammed into the truckstops. Had to beat on a sleeper to get out. Trucks were parked on either side of the road and down the shoulders of the interstate. I stepped out on the bigroad, and yes the road was slick, BUT if you have technique, you can make it.

    Several things you new guys do wrong that get you in trouble.

    1. Follow too closely
    2. Ride side by side with another vehicle
    3. Drive too slowly
    4. That freakin power divider!!!!
    5. No CB.

    Heres what I want you to drive to learn how to drive on slick roads. Ease out onto the bigroad, easy on the throttle and steering. Get up to 40-45 mph, but get your rpms up around 1400-1500, and run light pressure on the throttle.

    Why 40-45 mph?

    Too slow is almost as bad as too fast. On a banked curve, you will slide sideways if you are going too slow. On an incline, you will spin out.

    Freezing rain when it builds up feels gritty to the touch. You CAN get traction, but you have to be careful of wheel spin which will polish the ice (hence the light throttle and higher rpm). Do a 15 second following distance. At 40 mph, a 15 second following distance gives you the ability to come to a complete stop without touching the brakes. If someone passes you and cuts down your following distance, back down just a bit until you regain your 15 seconds. You should be able to proceed down the road at a relatively easy, stress free pace.
    Youre coming up to a hill, pick your speed up to 55, then downshift to get those rpms back up, then light throttle. That should give you the momentum to make the hill.

    Saw a bunch of trucks running close together. Looked like a convoy. Then someone tried to pass them and they're all riding side by side. Dangerous. I backed down and kept my following distance. A Swift truck (not trying to pick on Swift, but it was a Swiftie) came to a complete halt on an incline to lock his power divider in front of a convoy. Drivers started screaming, but they shouldn't have been following so close. Even so, right lane was blocked. Bet the HP that pulled in front of them was fit to be tied.

    Say traffic stops on a hill. What do I do?

    Stay on flat ground if you can't get by in the left lane. Hit the shoulder. At least you won't need a wrecker. If you have to slow down, slow down, keep your 15 seconds, but do not stop. If you have to slow down enough that you have to shift into the bottom gears of the transmission, off the throttle, engage your power divider, then shift into lower gears. You should be able to walk around them. If there's snow on the road, put your tires on the snow. Snow has traction

    This is for the interstate only. The two lanes are tighter and banked steeper.

    Another thing. If you have a CB, turn it on in bad weather. You want to hear about a road being shut down BEFORE you get to the shutdown. You should have seen the number of bottomfeeder trucks that got stuck on the shoulder of the road because they ran out of hours. Do you want to be on the shoulder of the road for 10 hours? How could you relax? You're constantly waiting to feel the crunch. Turn the CB on, and turn the volume low. If you hear a bunch of chatter, turn it up to hear what's being said. You don't have to listen to every word, but you want to listen for words like EASTBOUND or SOUTHBOUND.

    Like I said, at 40mph, you won't slide off the road if you hit your brakes. You shouldn't have to hit your brakes if you do the 15 second following distance. Get the rpms up, and run a slightly lower gear than you normally do so that the engines torque doesn't make the wheels spin. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. I made it around the Swift truck and the convoy behind them because of the following distance. Went up quite a few grades and did not have to engage the power divider. Most importantly, the long following distance will prevent the brain from frying because of stress.

    I have an 18 speed. I would imagine that you guys with autos can manually drop gears to get the rpms up (I wouldn't know how that would work on an auto, but I am sure we can get one of the gang here to chime in. Remember, this is for the bigroad only. Interstates and toll roads are wider and not as steep or banked as hard as the 2lane black top. I wouldn't recommend trying to learn slick roads on two lanes. Anyways, thanks for reading and safe travels to all of you.

    one more thing: I would like to see someone do a video of driving on slick roads.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
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  3. Floorguy1

    Floorguy1 Light Load Member

    Jul 6, 2014
    Duluth MN
    I have an automatic (not by choice). But I can manually select what gear I want to drive in. And yes I always run higher rpm when on a slippery surface. It takes a lot of getting used to to run an auto-shift in the winter. You can spin the tires very easy. I've been stuck once this year and wasn't very happy about it
  4. STexan

    STexan Road Train Member

    Oct 3, 2011
    Longview, TX
    I agree with the general message of the post, however there is frozen ice and there is freezing rain. Big difference. Obviously you were on ice with no "wet" on top. If you were on ice where rain was falling then freezing (wet ice), you would not have been driving 40-45 unless you had studded tires. If you were driving 40-45 on wet ice, then hat's off to you sir.
    snowwy, browndawg and tinytim Thank this.
  5. KAK

    KAK Medium Load Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    Also, IF there are rumble bars cut into the pavement on the shoulder don't be afraid to drive on them. If ya have to stop on the road be #### sure to get over on them before stopping so ya can get goin again
  6. Moving Forward

    Moving Forward Medium Load Member

    Jan 14, 2014
    New England, USA
    Since you didn't say anything about how to use or not use the jake brake in slick conditions, especially when going down something like an 8% grade, what are your thoughts on that? I've heard so many mixed reviews on this topic, I'd appreciate any suggestions/feedback from other drivers. I haven't had a problem yet, but I'd really like to keep it that way!
  7. bzinger

    bzinger Road Train Member

    Dec 10, 2014
    omaha , ne
    or if ya want the express route alternative to sitting in the truckstop during winter conditions make a few trips a week from great falls mt to dickenson nd and the hwy 200 stretch from glendive to great falls will educate ya quik with montanas god put it there god will take it off road maintnance program lol.
    cnsper and Saturday Thank this.
  8. Ridgeline

    Ridgeline Road Train Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    Sorry to disagree with the OP but if it is slick out, park the truck and enjoy the break because stupidity of some drivers who think they can drive on an ice rink can get people killed.
    12 ga, Knucklehead, RERM and 5 others Thank this.
  9. KW Cajun

    KW Cajun Road Train Member

    Apr 12, 2013
    Copperhead Road
    Good info and I agree with basically all of it, although maybe it needs to be clarified (especially for newer drivers) not to misinterpret "slick roads" as being the same as roads with sheet ice, black ice/wet ice, or general icing that runs close to zero on the "traction scale needle". For newer drivers, it's strange that snow gives a larger 'safety-conscious' psychological effect than ice, mainly because snow is so visible (and even audible), even tho snow/slush does have much greater traction than any sheet ice can even begin to offer.

    Yes, going too slow can be just as bad as too fast, and I have no problem at 40-45 mph on most slick roads, generally speaking, but when it comes to "slicker than owl #####" icing conditions... it gets parked. Terrain figures in a bunch also.
    HellStomper116 Thanks this.
  10. lester

    lester Road Train Member

    Jan 2, 2012
    NW, Iowa
    I fully trust myself on bad roads, it's everyone else that scares me.
    And I have to agree with who ever it was that said something about the difference in ice and freezing rain.
    12 ga and Lonesome Thank this.
  11. wsyrob

    wsyrob Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Winston Salem
    Thanks OP this is a good thread.

    I did a little slick road driving today across 35 in Ohio and WV. Things were going well until I hit Beckley WV. I decided to park it rather than contend with the hills in 2 inch per hour snowfall that the plows couldn't keep up with. My company pays $15 an hour to sit and I made it far enough to not disrupt my dispatch. I lose a few hours of home time but will make $100 more this week for stopping.

    There is a time to go and a time to hunker down. If I can't go 35 MPH I stay where I am. Slick road drivers be sure to check out the state 511 site before heading out. No sense leaving a warm truck stop to sit in a backup waiting for a wreck to be cleared.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
    TripleSix, snowwy, RERM and 9 others Thank this.
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