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6 Winter Driving Tips for Fleets

Safety   
  • A view through a windsheild of a snowy road.

Vehicle collisions are an unfortunate reality when winter weather rolls in every year. With accumulating snow and ice on the road, motorists can find themselves in difficult driving situations. While fleet drivers can't anticipate the weather or another drivers movements, they can practice safe winter driving so they're prepared for snowy conditions. By slowing down and reinforcing safe driving habits, fleet owners and drivers can keep themselves, their cargo, and the roadways safe.

From checking the forecast to installing snow tires, there are many ways you can prepare for winter weather and avoid potential hazards. Read our guide on 6 winter driving tips for fleets to stay safe this season.

1. Read Up-To-Date Forecasts & Plan Your Route

Winter weather can change instantaneously, which is why it's important for both fleet managers and drivers to keep an eye on the forecast. Fleet managers should plan ahead and provide drivers with operating procedures in the event of a snow or ice storm, along with alternate routes they can take if a major road is impacted. Drivers should be checking on the weather regularly and reporting any hazardous conditions to their managers and fellow drivers — when it's safe to do so.

Another way to keep drivers informed of winter weather conditions is by using navigation devices. Most modern fleet navigation devices provide weather updates and route updates in the event of a road closure. By equipping fleet vehicles with these devices, drivers will have up-to-date weather information and be able to plan for hazardous road conditions.

2. Conduct Vehicle Inspections Often

Completing proper inspections of fleet vehicles is a mandatory task, but everyone in the warehouse and yard should keep their eyes open for damaged vehicles as it gets colder. During winter months, vehicles are often covered with ice and snow, making it difficult to spot damaged parts or equipment. Doing a short walk around of your fleet vehicles each time they come into the yard can help identify any problems and allow you to put plans in place to repair it.

Fleet management software like the Rand Platform can give you a more detailed look at each vehicle in your fleet. Our software makes it easy to input vehicle health and maintenance history, allowing you to keep tabs on every vehicle in your fleet and schedule service as necessary.

3. Install Snow Tires & Chains

When preparing your fleet vehicles for the winter season, you'll need to equip them with the right tires and accessories to ensure your drivers are safe on snowy roads.

Snow tires are a must for fleets in areas that experience moderate to large snowfall totals during the winter months. With deeper treads, these tires offer more traction on roads with snow and ice accumulations. Additionally, it's important to keep all tires inflated to their proper PSI to ensure they function as intended.

Along with snow tires, vehicles that traverse mountainous terrain should have chains ready and available to use. In some areas, they are a mandatory accessory to ensure drivers and their vehicles can safely pass an area. Go over each of your fleet vehicles to ensure they have the proper tires, chains, and other equipment they need to traverse snowy roads this season.

4. Pack a Basic Winter Weather Kit

When a winter storm strikes, fleet drivers could be left stranded on the road for an extended amount of time. In these situations, it’s vital for drivers to have a winter survival kit so they stay warm, fed, and in communication with their family, your office, and emergency services if necessary.

Here is a short list of items that could benefit a driver if they find themselves stranded in hazardous winter weather:

  • Extra warm clothing.
  • Gloves, hats, scarves, blankets.
  • Roadside triangles and flares.
  • A shovel.
  • Cat litter.
  • Matches.
  • Flashlight.
  • Swiss army knife and/or multi-tool.
  • Jumper cables.
  • A powerbank for charing a smartphone.
  • Snow shovel.
  • Non-perishable foods and snacks.
  • Water.
  • First aid kit.

Depending on the cargo your fleet is hauling and the type of route they're taking, they may need more equipment to keep themselves safe in the event they are stranded in a winter storm. Check with your drivers and other industry managers to see what you can add to your vehicles to keep your drivers safe.

5. Avoid Congested Roadways

Driving in heavy traffic with icy roads can be disastrous if an accident occurs. The best way to avoid this is to plan alternate routes for your drivers to take in the event of dangerous weather conditions. However, sometimes congested roadways can't be avoided. In these instances it's best to coach your drivers on safe driving practices to avoid potential collisions. By keeping plenty of distance between themselves and other drivers, as well as staying alert to their surroundings, they can minimize their chances of ending up in a collision.

6. Slow Down & Overestimate Customer Delivery Times

When winter weather takes a turn for the worse, your fleet could experience delays in their deliveries or services to customers. During these events, keeping business "running as usual" could result in an accident or serious injury. Instead, it's better to slow down your processes and re-adjust delivery and service times as necessary during severe weather.

In the winter, the likelihood of an accident becomes greater with poor road conditions, lack of visibility, a decrease in stability, traction, and vehicle performance. Rushing your drivers to complete a delivery or service is never the right decision in these situations. The U.S. Department of Transportation FHA lists a quarter of all accidents occur during snowy, slushy, or icy conditions and over 76,000 vehicle related injuries annually during snowfall or sleet.

Keep Your Drivers Safe This Winter

Ensuring that your drivers are prepared and equipped to drive in winter conditions is an important part of keeping your fleet and the roadways safe. And we can help, but one of the best ways to ensure safe conditions is by listening to your drivers about road conditions. Our fleet management program and telematics hardware can help you keep your fleet safer this winter and make your operations more efficient. To learn more about our fleet management solutions and how they can improve your fleet's safety, contact us today.

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