Coping With Extreme Heat And Weather Conditions

Extremely hot conditions can pose risks for truck drivers

Australia has had an extraordinarily hot start to summer with record temperatures peaking in the high 40s in some regions. With more hot weather to come, we look at some simple tips to help keep the driver, cargo and vehicle safe.

Driving in the heat

Extreme heat can affect the road surface, making it sticky and slowing down vehicles. Driving at night reduces the risks but that is not practical for many operators.

The most common effects of a truck overheating are burst radiators and hoses; stretched belts; failing pulleys; and an increase in tyre delamination and punctures.

Some preventative measures you can take incude:

  • Be diligent when checking tyres, pulleys, and belts
  • Ensure air conditioning and ventilation vents are kept clear
  • Check oil and water levels frequently
  • Carry spares

Be prepared for breakdowns

Mechanical breakdowns and air-conditioning failure can pose a real threat to the driver. Even if you’re not undertaking a long-haul trip, it’s important to be prepared for hot weather and emergencies.

  • Take extra food and water. In hot weather it’s more important than ever to take regular breaks, eat regularly, and drink enough fluids.
  • Overheating can cause loss of concentration and focus, making you a threat to yourself and other drivers.
  • Truck drivers are often the first on the scene of breakdowns or accidents. Having extra supplies means you can look after yourself and offer support to others in an emergency.
  • Carry spares, a tool kit, and first aid supplies for emergencies and keep an umbrella or tarp onboard to provide shade in an emergency.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. In very hot weather people dehydrate when fluid intake is insufficient to replace fluids lost.

    Symptoms of dehydration include:
  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth, lips, and tongue
  • Headache
  • Dark urine, and not so much of it
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed, particularly when standing up

Emergency treatment for dehydration can be made by dissolving 6 teaspoons of sugar with half a teaspoon of salt into a one litre of bottled water. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks.

Keep in touch

A two-way radio and mobile phone are essential equipment for keeping in touch with other road users and your base.

For drivers on remote routes, it’s vital to prepare a regular contact plan and stick to it. This ensures someone else knows your location at a specific time and if you don’t call in, help can be sought before problems escalate.

  • Always carry a mobile phone and charger
  • Carry an alternative sim card or satellite phone if coverage is patchy
  • Remember to phone in at pre-arranged times
  • Have an emergency plan in place

Tune into local radio for emergency updates

Extreme weather conditions can cause bushfires. Regularly check local radio for weather and emergency services for updates. ABC Emergency plays an important role during emergencies. Local radio stations remain on air during natural disasters broadcasting emergency warnings and alerts relevant to the area.