Slick roads 101

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

  1. KW Cajun

    KW Cajun Road Train Member

    Apr 12, 2013
    Copperhead Road
    There is some truth in that, but several things figure in. I also assume you mean curve like a highway curve, not "corner".
    Also realize if it's slick, you should not be going fast enough to "coast" thru a good portion of the curve.

    But first let me say, there are far more old-time experienced drivers than I, in this thread and these forums, but I'm posting this reply to share what I do know, and also see if the more experienced drivers disagree with any part, so that I may learn something new. Also because its been well over 3 hours & no one answered you yet. ;)

    You need to learn and 'feel' forces (even slight) on the kingpin. With time, you'll 'feel' if the kingpin has a pushing effect on your tractor (even very slight), or pulling back on your tractor. Precise feathering of your fuel pedal will allow you to become aware of this, and sense this. (you can practice this in dry weather too). Sometimes it's critical in certain slick conditions.
    That said, you must maintain this feel/control especially in slick curves, to eliminate any 'undesired' pushing effect from your trailer.

    However, there's a few variables left out to give a specific "one size fits all" answer to the question of slowing and how much on the fuel pedal.
    What I mean by that is how sharp of a curve? (very gradual vs a much sharper arc?) how much bank? or downgrade/upgrade? no snow vs tire drag from packed snow? your speed/momentum?, etc.

    The 'curve' and road surface scenario I'm picturing may be quite different from what you are picturing. Also your speed.
    These variables are things YOU will have to sense, learn, and become accustomed to, because every road scenario varies.
    Believe me, when you get familiar with your truck, you get a better feel for it's capabilities and limitations. Plus unloaded vs loaded makes a huge difference.

    However in general, your goal is to constantly maintain a controllable safe speed before, during, and throughout the curve.
    Feather your accelerator so that you're not allowing any undesired forward energy (pushing effect) from your trailer, and so that there's just a slight pulling effect from your tractor. Like Triple Six said, you have to also prepare for uphills (increase speed, within reason).

    Coasting is usually a symptom of, or precursor to, 'lack of control'. (not good in most cases) More chance the trailer can push you.
    The driver & truck must maintain more control than the negative effect from the variables. Your SOLE control is where those those tires contact the road (friction area).
    Make sure that YOU control the truck, especially speed. Don't let one of the variables control it. If road conditions won't allow this,, park it.

    Note: I know I went far 'deeper & wider' in response to Brettj's question than need be, but maybe some of those things can help better in seeing the big picture.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
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  3. Voyager1968

    Voyager1968 Road Train Member

    I use my jake brake in snowy conditions, but only on low or medium (mostly low) though. Basically I use low if I have a light to medium weight load, and medium if I'm loaded heavy. The way I see it, unless you are totally empty, running the jakes on low or medium, depending on weight, will help you to not have to grab a lot of brake when you need to stop, but it's not so strong as to send you into a jacknife situation...unless you are on sheet or black ice. Then it's best to not use the jakes at all.

    The other thing is ramps. If you are on a ramp that curves, shut the jakes off. The curve, even on the low stage, could be enough to spin you out.

    Just remember that one size does not fit all. Don't take my post as gospel. Get a feel for your truck and road conditions for yourself and use your best judgement.
    Rocks, Moving Forward and Agtrucker Thank this.
  4. RetiredUSN

    RetiredUSN Medium Load Member

    Jan 9, 2015
    Good post Triple6

    I always reached out and felt the front of my mirror to get a instant sense of icing. If it was freezing to the mirrors......then I knew it was on the roads as well. I would make a quick decision as to keep running or find a place to stop. If I was in a flat region without heavy winds.....I kept it rolling with lots of following distance. Hilly terrain with a lot of curves......I would park it. Thats just me though. Others might do it differently.

    The CB thing...... I dunno....... If I was concentrating on icy conditions, the last thing I wanted in my ear was the usual moronic conversation on Channel 19.
    Rocks and HellStomper116 Thank this.
  5. EZX1100

    EZX1100 Road Train Member

    Aug 18, 2012
    the "crowd" mentality actually occurs because one driver wants to driver super slow (maybe within his comfort zone, maybe because he is just plain scared or inexperienced), and others are cautious about passing him, so they are travelling slower than they really want

    then you get a backup (ie crowd)

    and when you pass these folks, you get called a "super trucker", so many just stay behind and further increase the crowd
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  6. tsavory

    tsavory Road Train Member

    Jun 4, 2013
    Paoli, IN
    Actually you are partly correct really slow before corner roll first part and ease into throttle last part works best IMHO I do stand corrected and not sure why during reread I added the corner in to that section.

    I agree with the majority what KW Cajun said it realy is all about whats ahead, how it feels, knowing your truck, and ones limits. Truly its hard to put words to the best way. Winter driving is a challenging. Its a mixture of knowledge and experience that gets one though it.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
    Rocks and KW Cajun Thank this.
  7. TripleSix

    TripleSix God of Roads

    Apr 10, 2009
    Copied in Hell
    Hey gang, excellent responses.

    Someone asked about the higher rpms than usual. The reason why I do it is because my motor makes big torque numbers in the lower rpm range. Most diesels do. If I am climbing a hill, my rpms will start to drop until about 1100-1150, and then she digs in heavy wanting to maintain that speed. You're no longer light on the throttle, are you? She will start spinning. Downshift again, high rpm and wait til the rpms drop to about 1300 then downshift again.

    I should have clarified, this run was between Nashville and Memphis this past week. The freezing rain hit first. It's wet when it hits your windshield and then flash freezes before your wipers can get there. Then ice storm and then snow. It was slick. I parked about noon in a truckstop and left out about midnight (I always let the traffic thin out in crappy weather). There were clusters of trucks convoying together (that blows my mind) so, I time it for a straight stretch and pass them. If I'm going to convoy with someone on an icy road, I still keep my distance.

    And they're right, I do no hesitate to use the shoulders or the rumble strips. There's snow on the shoulders.
    The purpose of this thread was not to be a hero or belittle those who choose to stay parked. It's to aid new drivers who may be in a bad area and need to get out. Just about every time I've done a drive like this, it's been at night.

    Someone asked about jake brakes. I wrote this post for rookies, and so I didn't mention jakes for a reason. See all jakes are not the same. Some of you have jakes that are so strong that they cause an empty truck to fishtail in the rain. Because of that, I wouldn't even try to suggest a jake. How does a heavy hauler come out of the mountains? Gear down into the basement and jake it. How do you do it on slick roads? Gear down deep into the basement to a point to where you crawl it down. Made the mistake of running up I77 in WV to US19 to I79. 19 was a mess. There are a few good pulls too.
    Rocks, KW Cajun, allniter and 4 others Thank this.
  8. Tonythetruckerdude

    Tonythetruckerdude Crusty Deer Slayer

    Dec 8, 2012
    hunting...../ retired
    Great thread Six. Info for the entire class. New and old !
    allniter, Moving Forward and Rocks Thank this.
  9. Infosaur

    Infosaur Road Train Member

    I work to hard as it is in this business, if poor road conditions aren't a reason to pull off, then nothing is!

    The desk jockeys need to be reminded from time to time that no load is worth a life.

    Besides, my dumb-### is out there in bad weather probably more than I should be as it is.
    tsavory and Rocks Thank this.
  10. sherlock510

    sherlock510 Road Train Member

    Jul 26, 2011
    Love the advice. Under certain circumstances parkin might be ya best option, but it never hurts to get educated.
    Rocks Thanks this.
  11. Hammer166

    Hammer166 Crusty Information Officer

    Aug 18, 2007
    ~8600+' and loving it!
    Pretty well nailed this, Cajun. I've posted a very similar things in other threads on here delving even deeper into the physics of what is happening when the trailer starts pushing on the kingpin, but you did a fine job of spelling it out! Although it usually results in glazed-over eyes, for the most part.

    Perhaps the most important thing to learn about driving on very slick roads is, as you pointed out, getting off the throttle doesn't mean no throttle, it means neutral throttle. And learning that 'feel' is critical.

    Now, where are all those Florida guys who like to take us to task for even suggesting driving on a slick road???

    KW Cajun, Rocks and ramblingman Thank this.
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