Heavy smoke and ash from dozens of wildfires raging across the Western United States has plummeted air quality and created dangerous driving conditions throughout the region. Truckers operating in the affected areas at this time should take these important precautions:
- Check wildfire conditions prior to departing and avoid traveling into areas where wildfires are active. A map of active fires is available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service website. Conditions should then be confirmed frequently as winds may cause wildfires to spread rapidly and jump across natural barriers, including roads and waterways.
- Limit your exposure to smoke. Smoke from wildfires can travel thousands of miles and can cause breathing difficulty, especially for those with heart or lung conditions. Pay attention to air quality reports and use common sense to guide your activities, including driving.
- Allow extra time to reach your destination. Motorists being diverted from road closures in wildfire areas can increase traffic congestion along other roadways.
- Have an alternate route plan in place before leaving in the event fire and smoke conditions require using it. Radio reports and State Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation websites are invaluable in providing up-to the minute information on traffic, road closures and detours. Also, watch for highway signs providing information on fire dangers.
- Keep all windows, mirrors, and headlights clean to ensure the best visibility, as even light smoke can cause visibility to be impaired. Drive with headlights on low beam and use fog lights if the vehicle is so equipped.
- Stay alert, slow down and maintain a cushion of space around your vehicle. Doing so will allow time for a safe response should a hazardous situation develop. With higher traffic volumes and the possibility of fleeing wildlife, conditions are ripe for more accidents.
- Watch for traffic control personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officers. Slow down and be prepared to stop if they signal you to do so.
Motor carriers should also establish a communication system that requires scheduled contact times with drivers so they can be updated on wildfire conditions. Adhere to the company’s electronic device usage policy so drivers are not using cell phones while operating the vehicle.
Owner Operator Direct provides commercial truck insurance for owner operators, whether leased drivers or those operating with their own authority. If you want a quote, give us a ring at 800-499-1044 and talk to a friendly operator. Or answer a few questions online and we'll email you one.