Editorial: Trucking Has It Down Cold

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, sure, but nobody ever said anything about a polar vortex. This riff on the U.S. Postal Service’s longtime motto is offered with respect, for we all know that — as these familiar words suggest — it takes a lot to slow them down.

Turns out a polar vortex can slow a lot of folks down.

The historic cold snap that swept across parts of the Midwest last week produced double-digit below-zero temperatures and compelled USPS and other parcel carriers to either temporarily halt deliveries or warn customers of delays. It takes a lot to stop these companies from their appointed rounds, but when breathing the air outside becomes a health risk, the wheels need to stop turning for a bit.

Trucking companies also had to adapt, training and preparing drivers for how to handle the dangerous cold. That includes keeping an eye on how the subzero temperatures could affect them, and their equipment. On a human level, that meant keeping warm and safe; wearing the proper gear and taking extra precautions during pre-trip inspections. As it relates to equipment, that meant making sure systems that could be adversely affected by the cold were functioning properly. Think fuel and brakes.

In times like this, the most tried-and-true methods come in handy. Such as just letting the truck run overnight when the temperatures fall below zero. Better not to risk a startup failure during a historic cold-weather event.

Despite the challenges, however, it’s worth noting that most of these delays were temporary. Parcel carriers returned to their deliveries, and truckers stayed on the road. After all, it’s during extreme weather events when consumers most count on trucking. The familiar rush to the grocery story for the essentials would be pointless if trucks didn’t arrive to stock those shelves. The same goes for fresh batteries for flashlights, a sturdy snow shovel and a slick, new sled for the kids. These goods need to be in the stores when weather threatens, and it’s trucks that make it happen.

As this is written, the harsh weather is forecast to take a breather before returning for another, less severe round. But whatever Mother Nature brings, you can count on the trucking industry to make sure we all have what we need to make it through the snow, rain and dark of night.