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Back on the Road

A Blog by TA & Petro Stopping Centers

Staying Safe During a Winter Breakdown

The snow is swirling, the temperature is dropping, daylight is fleeting and to top it all off you’re broken down. Winter weather is often inconvenient, but during a breakdown, it can turn downright dangerous. Roadside assistance providers like TA Truck Service RoadSquad hit the highway to reach stranded drivers as quickly as possible, but do you know how to keep yourself safe in the meantime? The first step is stocking up your truck with necessary supplies and making an action plan – before you find yourself in this situation.

Winter Weather Supplies Checklist

Before rolling out for your next route, there are a few things you’ll want to make sure you have on your rig.

Extra Clothing

You never know how cold it will be when you break down. The temperature on your dashboard might read 30 degrees, but it could be much colder after factoring in the wind chill and precipitation. And if you have to leave your truck to check on something outside or to make your way to a safe place, you are going to feel it. In that situation, extra layers of clothing can be the difference between cozy comfortable and frigid cold. Always keep a heavy jacket, gloves, a hat, rain gear, a blanket, boots and boot cleats on board. Believe it or not, you’ll also want to pack sunglasses to fight against afternoon sun glare on the snow.

Extra Food and Water

You may have planned to be on the road for just a few hours before your next stop, but during a breakdown that schedule goes out the window. Since you never know how long you might be down on the side of the road, always have emergency water and non-perishable food on hand. Plastic water bottles and snacks like trail mix and protein bars are must-haves.

A Strong Flashlight – with Extra Batteries

Whether you need to see something on your rig or be seen by oncoming traffic, you’ll want to have a high powered flashlight. Make sure you test your flashlight as part of your pre-trip inspection and pack an extra set of batteries, just in case.

First Aid Kit

Keeping a first aid kit and any required prescriptions on your truck is a smart thing to do year round, but they can come in especially handy during an extended winter breakdown under harsh weather conditions.


Winter is not the time to be running on fumes. Low fuel levels can make starting your engine a challenge, and diesel is a necessity when it comes to staying warm in an emergency situation. Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank to keep the heat running when you really need it. Plus, the extra weight of a full tank over your drive tires can make it easier to control your vehicle when you are up and running.

Traction Devices

When the roads are bad, getting stuck in the slush can have you down nearly as long as a mechanical breakdown. Be aware of snow chain laws. They vary by state, so before beginning a route, but sure you have the tire chains or socks that you need to be DOT compliant – and to maintain good traction. If you do get stuck in the snow, sand or salt can improve traction, stop your tires from spinning and get you out of a slippery situation.

What to Do During a Winter Breakdown Action Plan

You’re broken down. Now what?

Park Your Truck

Make sure your vehicle is parked in the safest possible manner, completely out of the flow of traffic. Keep in mind, even if you are parked on the shoulder, drivers can still mistake your truck as being on the road in a low visibility situation.

Be sure to follow safety laws and regulations in displaying hazard lights immediately and placing warning devices like triangles and cones within 10 minutes of stopping so other drivers are aware of your vehicle.

If the snow is still coming down, be aware it might be collecting on your lights, making it harder for other drivers to see you. Be sure you keep them clear the entire time you are pulled over. Anytime you exit your cab, put on a safety vest so other drivers can easily see you as well.

Pick Up the Phone

You will need to call a roadside assistance provider for help and to do that you will need a charged cell phone. Be sure to keep your phone battery charged, especially when the weather is bad. Phone chargers that plug into your truck and portable power banks can come in handy if your phone does hit low power mode.

Keep Warm

Do you have heat or access to an area that does? At RoadSquad, that is one of our dispatchers’ first questions when working with a winter breakdown call. It should be one of the first things on your mind too. Communicate with your breakdown agent to ensure that you will be able to stay warm until help arrives.

Pack your truck with supplies now and remember this action plan if you experience a breakdown this winter. Even if the conditions are rough, you will be calm and safe until your truck is up and running back on the road.

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