During the winter, the elements are quite unforgiving for the average car owner. Snow, sleet and rain can cause a significant amount of damage to any vehicle. Truck drivers are no different, as winter brings on a whole new set of problems that can cause substantial damage to their expensive, heavy-duty rigs. With the inclusion of ADAS on trucks becoming more standard with every new truck release, it’s important to add maintaining this system to your checklist this winter.
Meet your System
If you’ve driven a newer truck, chances are you’re familiar with some form of Advanced Driver Assistance System, or ADAS. The system works through a collection of cameras and radars that automatically identify road markings, signs, surrounding vehicles, pedestrians, and any other threat you could potentially be facing on the road.
ADAS is an unmatched addition to your tool belt, not only ensuring your safety, but allowing you to take your driving skills to an even higher standard of quality. In this article, we’ll break down the most common systems included and ensure you’re ready to keep them clean and clear.
For blind-spot monitoring, ADAS uses sensors near the rear bumper to alert you when a vehicle is coming up behind you. Just like our eyes, snow can confuse these radar signals and limit their ability to notify you. To maintain these sensors, instead be sure to keep the rear bumper area free of snow and ice.
Tip: Utilize mud flaps to redirect road spray away from the sensors.
Lane departure warning systems use cameras, laser, & infrared to detect visible road markings and warn if you are unintentionally crossing out of your lane. These sensors are great in the warmer months, but in the winter it’s likely they will have trouble identifying clear road markings that are hidden by snow, slush, salt or ice. These sensors can usually be found on your mirrors as well as being mounted in other areas. If you’re unsure of their location, it’s important to ask someone who will be able to identify them. Keeping these clean is easy — just make sure they’re wiped off and you’re good to go.
One of the most lifesaving features available is the forward collision warning system. This system uses front-facing cameras or radar to take corrective action, sometimes even on your behalf, if your vehicle is about to collide with another. Just as with the other systems, the key is clarity. Find yourself an automotive-specific detergent. Give em a shine, you’ll be fine.
Tip: slippery roads = longer braking distances; In winter weather you will need more distance when stopping, that’s why it’s always important to keep your eyes on the road and never fully rely on these systems. In the end they’re just tools, you’re the driver.
Tip: Be gentle, as salt and dirt can quickly turn a soft cloth into sandpaper and absolutely demolish the paint job.
Until these sensors become self cleaning, it’s our responsibility to know our systems and keep them performing exactly as expected. During pre-trip inspections, make sure that the entire vehicle is clear of snow, salt and ice. Note that if you are driving in snowy weather, you may need to clear off the sensors more than once during your route. It’s easy, even expected, to get comfortable having these systems at hand. You could argue that’s the whole point. But it’s important that you always maintain a distinction because at the end of the day ADAS is a tool. While, yes, they’re game changing. Keep in mind that you’re the experienced driver and ADAS is just a tool. Always count on yourself first, and take the extra steps to drive as if ADAS isn’t watching.
One last tip, while the majority of this post has to do with roadways, remember droves of holiday shoppers are gonna be in full swing both in and out of their vehicles. Stay aware and stay calm and we’ll make it through this special season just fine.
As always, thanks for reading.