The seasons are changing in the United States and winter weather is on the horizon. From cold temperatures and intense winds to rain, freezing rain or snow, these weather conditions pose unique challenges to fleets. Before your company is sidelined by a storm, begin preparations to winterize your fleet for the season with these four tips.
Communicate driver safety best practices and expectations
According to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly 6,000 people are killed and over 445,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes each year. Preventative safety measures can significantly reduce this risk.
Before drivers head out on the road, ensure weather-related safety procedures and expectations are clearly communicated to your entire fleet. For example, safe and reasonable driving speeds during the summer can become dangerous during poor weather. The FMCSA recommends reducing speeds by one-third on wet roads and by half during snowfall, so reiterate expectations to drivers on dramatically reducing their speeds, wearing a seat-belt at all times and leaving an appropriate buffer between other vehicles.
Even the most experienced trucker is not immune to weather-related mishaps, so encourage drivers to create and keep an emergency kit in their vehicle, including a flashlight, space blanket, first aid supplies, work or winter gloves, non-perishable snacks and water, etc.
Ensure vehicles receive necessary maintenance
Take the time to ensure all vehicles that require maintenance are serviced well ahead of the winter season. Unexpected storms can strike at any time, and vehicles that haven’t been properly prepared could end up broken down and out of service, putting the driver at risk and causing costly delays.
Tracking vehicles with telematics solutions can help fleet managers be proactive about maintenance by creating regular schedules for service based on engine hours or odometer readings to help better predict when an asset needs attention. Based on engine diagnostics and fleet maintenance histories in the system-of-record, companies can recognize the symptoms of equipment failure in advance and plan maintenance services to prevent broken equipment or malfunctions during severe weather.
Proper maintenance also extends to tires. Fleet managers should ensure that tires are in good shape to tackle driving in winter conditions and that they’re replaced or rotated when necessary. Fleets can also consider upgrading to snow tires, or adding chains to installed tires.
Develop a winter weather communication plan
If the weather is very bad, some roads may be closed altogether and drivers may experience significant delays. If this occurs, a winter weather plan can help businesses stay on track to fulfill orders. A contingency plan ensures a work flow management strategy is in place to answer customer inquiries and provide updates on potential delays in real-time; GPS fleet tracking tools can also reroute drivers to help them stay on schedule.
Implement technology to alleviate weather-specific challenges
Bad weather can’t always be avoided, but fleets can implement technology to help solve some challenges. By utilizing GPS fleet tracking technology, fleet managers can decrease the risk that accompanies driving in winter weather by locating drivers, rerouting them to avoid harsh conditions, road closures or hazards and guiding them to their destination or a safe location. Teletrac Navman also developed a specific weather overlay feature giving dispatchers and operations teams an instant view of where drivers are relative to weather systems 24-hours a day. Dispatch management tools give dispatchers live traffic update and two-way messaging capabilities to send updated routes and closures to a driver in-vehicle, so operators can keep drivers safe and on schedule to ensure freight is delivered on time. Moreover, if weather conditions do affect drivers, GPS fleet tracking means fleet managers can ensure recovery services locates a disabled truck quickly if asset maintenance or medical attention is required.
To learn more about the benefits of GPS fleet tracking technology, click here.
Sources: Federal Highway Administration weather-related crash data; FMCSA driver safety recommendations