14 Identify and Adjust to Difficult and Extreme Driving Conditions

Performance Skill Standard:

Conditions of Performance:

  • Given a typical tractor-trailer rig, a load, a route, and a set of difficult or extreme driving conditions…

Statement of Work to be performed:

  • …The driver will identify the conditions and make the appropriate adjustments.

Performance Criteria:

  • Explain and demonstrate correct defensive adjustments for at least the following conditions:
  • Night operations.
  • Cold weather operation.
  • Hot weather operation.
  • Mountainous terrain.
  • Wet conditions.
  • Windy conditions.

Performance Elements and Assessment Criteria:

Night Operations

  • Judge and adjust speed, distances, and separation under nighttime conditions.
  • Demonstrate improved scanning technique.
  • Use high beams legally; dim headlights in accord with law and safety.
  • Respond safely to glare of other vehicles.
  • Manage driver’s fatigue.
  • Use proper signaling techniques.

Adverse Weather

  • Prepare for operation in cold weather, including removing snow and ice from windows, mirrors, brakes, lights, and hand holds.
  • Inspect for cold weather operation by paying special attention to:
    • Coolant level and mixture
    • Heater
    • Defrosters
    • Wipers and washers
    • Tire tread
    • Brakes
    • Lights
    • Reflectors
    • Wiring system
    • Hoses
    • Fuel
    • Exhaust system
    • Fifth wheel
  • Expel moisture from the air tanks after each trip.
  • Check weather information before and during trips and adjust plan accordingly.
  • Check and remove ice accumulation on:
    • Brakes
    • Air hoses
    • Electrical wiring
    • Radiator shutters
  • Adjust operation of vehicle to maintain control and avoid jackknifing according to weather conditions including:
    • Speed selection
    • Braking
    • Direction changes
    • Following distance
  • Assure safe operation of brakes after driving through deep water.
  • Use windshield wipers, washers, and defrosters to maintain visibility.
  • Start engine in cold weather.
  • Observe road surface for changes in conditions.
  • Adjust rate of change in speed and direction to road conditions to avoid skidding
  • Coordinate acceleration and shifting to overcome the resistance of snow, sand, and mud.
  • Carry additional food and clothing to deal with “stop” situations.

Hot Weather:

  • Check:
    • Tires
    • Tread condition
      • Pressure
    • Lubrication
    • Cooling system:
    • Coolant level and hoses.
    • Fan and belts.
    • Debris on radiator.
  • Carry an ample supply of drinking water.
  • Avoid leaving the vehicle if it is disabled in the desert.


  • Check brake adjustment prior to mountain driving
  • Use right lane or special truck lane going up grades.
  • Place transmission in appropriate gear for engine braking before starting downgrade.
  • Use proper braking technique and maintain proper engine braking before starting downgrades.
  • Use special speed reduction devices properly; e.g., engine brakes.
  • Use truck escape ramp, if available, when brakes fail on a downgrade.
  • Observe temperature gauge frequently when pulling heavy loads up long grades.
  • Use 4-way flashers in accordance with state law and safety