Tornado season is upon us, and we’ve seen unfortunate news in several states regarding tornados touching down and wreaking havoc. Unfortunately, weather changes in an instant, and it’s important that drivers have sufficient knowledge on how to plan ahead, as well as what to do if they face inclement weather suddenly when on the road.
If when checking the radar there’s any indication that something may occur, postpone the haul or find an alternate route. Driver safety comes first, and it’s important to communicate with your customers about delayed deliveries due to inclement weather.
However, even if weather may appear clear, inclement weather can develop unexpectedly, which is why it’s important for drivers to be well-versed on the weather terminology and signs that may signal dangerous weather ahead. It’s also important that drivers know how to best communicate back to dispatchers about what they see.
A couple of warning signs of a tornado could be a sudden increase of heavy winds combined with heavy rainfall or extended rumbling noises that sound like thunder but instead last longer than is usual for thunder. Anything that seems off should be reported back to dispatchers. Over-communication is imperative even if it’s something that may appear insignificant.
It’s also crucial for drivers to be educated on the lingo used to describe the different stages of a storm or inclement weather. For instance, a tornado watch means that drivers should be prepared for one and keep a lookout; however, a tornado warning means that a tornado is active and has been spotted, and drivers should take immediate cover. All actions should be communicated back to the dispatchers.
When seeking shelter, never park under an overpass or bridge. It is not a safe place to seek shelter for a couple of reasons: it is not sturdy enough to stay intact if in the path of a tornado, and if you park under it, you can block traffic driving through trying to escape the path of the tornado, potentially causing more damage and harm to self and others on the road.
It’s very important to note your surroundings and drive away from the tornado if your path is clear. If you can find a ravine or ditch beneath ground-level that is far enough away from cars and the path of the tornado, seek shelter there and cover your head with your hands or anything you have packed. If there is nowhere safe enough to seek shelter, find a safe place that is—from the best you can estimate—out of the path of the tornado. Park and fasten seat belt, placing your arms or anything you have over your head as you stay down below the windows.
Before hitting the road, every driver should have a plan for finding shelter, pulling off the road, and indentifying alternative routes to take should they encounter dangerous weather.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marilena Acevedo is the vice president of human resources at PetroChoice, a national lubricant distributor with a proprietary fleet of drivers and trucks.
MODERN WORKTRUCK SOLUTIONS: MAY 2019 ISSUE
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