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Every year, the winter season completely alters the landscape in certain areas across the United States. Anyone who has spent their early years in a warm climate and then relocates to a colder region encounters for the first time an unfamiliar phenomenon: the way that the year’s first snowfall suddenly makes the neighborhood unrecognizable. But the seasonal shift brings with it other changes that are more challenging than a visual reset.

Cold weather, rain, snowfall and ice make driving a motor vehicle more hazardous for everyone, including professionals. To appreciate the extent of the problem, consider just one statistic: more than 70 percent of U.S. roads are in regions that receive five inches or more in annual snowfall. That covers a lot of ground.

Winter conditions add hazards

Road surfaces with a layer of snow, rain, slush or ice are involved in 24 percent of vehicle crashes. In other words, in almost a quarter of motor vehicle accidents, precipitation is a factor. About 15 percent of these events happens during snowfall or sleet alone.

The United States Federal Highway Administration states that nearly 6,000 people are killed and 445,000 injured in weather-related crashes every year. In business terms, the agency says, trucking companies lose an estimated 32.6 billion working hours as a result of weather-related congestion in major metropolitan areas.

Tools to help clear the path

Bad weather cannot be avoided, nor the necessity of having to sometimes drive through it. But there is good news: GPS fleet tracking technology can help commercial motor vehicle operators dramatically decrease the risk that accompanies driving in these harsh conditions.

The global positioning system already proves its worth every day. GPS is what hikers, boaters—and drivers—rely on to navigate, to locate their position, and find a way to their destination under circumstances when without it many of them might be hopelessly lost.

As a fleet manager, you can use these capabilities to your advantage during inclement weather--to minimize risk, physical danger and business losses.

Synchronize routing with snow clearance

Fleets that operate on short-haul delivery schedules depend on snowplow vehicles to keep roads and streets open. With GPS fleet tracking, carriers and their drivers can compile real-time information on what roads are cleared and how much time has elapsed since the most recent snow removal. If weather reports indicate that snow has fallen after that day, it may be a good bet to choose an alternate roadway. 

Maintain a flexible plan

If the weather is very bad, some roads may be closed altogether. With help from a dispatch management tool through a GPS fleet tracking system, productivity can be held at a high level. Dispatchers receive live traffic updates, two-way messaging with drivers, and they can quickly send updated routes to a driver’s in-vehicle tablet allowing the vehicle operator to stay on schedule. 

Keep customers informed

Poor conditions and impassable roads result in delayed deliveries. Trucks might be delayed a few hours behind or even need to postpone the run until the weather lifts. Businesses can ensure their staff diligently fulfills customer requests through work flow management offered in GPS fleet tracking software. The technology’s mapping features allow users to view locations of drivers and vehicles in real-time and accurately answer customer inquiries. When customers are informed in advance, they can plan around potential delays and fleets can maintain not only their customer’s trust, but their business as well.

Trucking is a year-round occupation, and GPS is a valuable tool in helping fleets carry on business as usual even in the most difficult of seasons.

To learn more about the advantages of a GPS fleet tracking system, check out the ebook- 10 Benefits of GPS Fleet Tracking.

Oswaldo Flores is a Safety & Compliance Product Manager at Teletrac Navman.

As a former fleet supervisor, Oswaldo has first-hand experience managing drivers and vehicles, ensuring his fleet maintains adherence to all internal and external regulations, policies, and guidelines, including DOT compliance, ANSI/OSHA certifications, and CHP Biennial Inspection of Terminals. Prior to his current position at Teletrac Navman, Oswaldo held fleet and compliance administrative management, fleet supervisory,  sales and business development roles with Pepsi Cola, Time Warner Cable, British Petroleum North America and Legacy Supply Chain Services.