Ride along: Winter trucking safety

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(ABC 6 News)  – Learning how to adapt to driving conditions across the country is something that comes with the job for a semi truck driver.

Bruce Sween trains semi truck drivers for Valley Transportation.  Reporter Jordan Sansom rode along with Sween Thursday night during the winter storm to get some perspective on what semi drivers experience on the road.

He says there is a learning curve for drivers during winter months and says the most important skill to remember is to slow down.

“You get too close to these guys they can’t even see you in the mirror so if they can’t see you in the mirror, they obviously don’t know you’re there so, general rule of thumb is if you can’t see their mirror they can’t see you,” said Sween, who has been driving semi-trucks for more than 17 years.

Visibility is another concern for semis as they can kick up a lot of snow making it difficult to see.  “A big cause of the accidents in our immediate area is that an automobile or another vehicle tries to pass us when it’s unsafe,” said Karsen Ulwelling. 

Ulwelling is the Safety Director at Valley Transportation.  He adds, “as you get closer to that tractor trailer or snow plow perhaps you imagine the snow flying up and the wind blowing it around, if your visibility is poor, passing is not a safe maneuver.”

Sween says whether you are driving a semi or a car, before you get behind the wheel this winter, make sure you limit all distractions and be aware of your surroundings.

“Be patient with us we’re all trying to get somewhere in the middle of a Minnesota winter storm, we’re not out here working against you, we’re all trying to work together to just stay safe on the roadways.”

Valley Transportation trainers say tailgating is a main cause of concern for their drivers. They suggest all drivers keep a safe distance between each vehicle.