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Risky winter conditions: How to prepare your fleet

Posted by Gordon Brown on May 23, 2019 11:11:00 AM

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Fleets have to be ready to get the job done, no matter the season or time of year. And this is especially true during the winter months.

When heavy rain, high winds, and other difficult weather patterns hit, your fleet drivers must know how to stay safe. Instructing your fleet on best driving practices in winter conditions will help maintain uptime, reduce accidents, and substantially lower costs.

Learn more about Accident Management and why it is important

Make no mistake: educating and preparing your fleet for the winter is an urgent matter. This blog will share a few important points to keep in mind. 

For winter, preparation is essential

To get through the winter, your fleet vehicles must be ready. It’s key to ensure vehicles are in proper shape to endure the colder months.

First, your vehicles should be thoroughly serviced. Inspections should be more detailed and frequent than usual.

Vehicle lights should be examined, batteries should be tested and kept charged, and all outer surfaces — especially windows, reflectors, and indicators — should be kept clean. Wiper blades should be fully functional, and the engine should be always topped up with water and antifreeze.

Another part of winter preparedness is making sure the right equipment is on hand if you're driving in colder climates, such as:

  • A shovel
  • De-icing fluid 
  • An ice-scraper
  • Reflective outerwear
  • A torch and extra batteries
  • A radio, mobile phone, and charger (for emergency use only)
  • Snow chains and traction mats

Keeping these items on reserve, and ensuring drivers know when and how to use them, will curtail accidents and reduce potential damage in unexpected, dangerous situations.

Talk with your drivers about winter safety rules

For a safer winter fleet, it is essential to engage your drivers about safe driving. The cold, darkness, rain, ice, and fog that accompany the winter immediately heighten the risks of the road, and the facts should be shared with your drivers accordingly.

In particular, remind your drivers to:

  • Avoid tailgating. Maintaining a safe distance behind other vehicles — up to 10 times the normal space — helps avert sudden collisions, especially on wet or icy roads. 
  • Allow extra travel time. By not having to rush, drivers can focus on road conditions and vehicle control. 
  • Maintain a slow, steady speed on wet roads. Hydroplaning is a real risk, and black ice is hard to spot. Driving at slower speeds reduces the chance of a crash.

Ensure driver safety by having the right tyres

Make sure vehicles are equipped with winter tyres or all-weather tyres. These, unlike all-season tyres, are made with an advanced material that grips surfaces better. As a result, braking and vehicle control are improved on wet, snowy, icy or slushy roads.

Additionally, drivers should constantly check that their tyres are fully pressurised at all times and that the tread depth stays well above the legal minimum of 1.5 mm for winter driving. This will ensure better traction and stability.

Manage driver behaviour and winter fleet risk with driver training

Training is essential all year round, but especially for the winter months. Drivers who lower their guard or are unskilled for winter driving present huge risks to your fleet.

For the cold season, driver training should emphasise staying alert (since darker skies can impair visibility and cause fatigue), making smooth manoeuvres in wet weather, following safer routes, avoiding flooded streets, taking scheduled breaks, and keeping abreast of forecasts. 

The winter presents heightened risk, and mitigating it through driver training is vital. With skilled, personally accountable drivers, you have less reason to fear road incidents.

Failing to prepare your fleet for winter can mean more collisions, costs, and unexpected downtime. The more precautions you take for winter weather, the better your accident management and fleet risk profile will be for it.

SurePlan can help. Our services can assist in up-skilling your fleet in this critical time, while lowering threats to your fleet operations and minimising the chance of costly incidents. Book a call with us today and shore up your fleet accident management for a safer, more productive winter.

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Topics: Accident Management, Driver Training

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