Winter is here – are you and your fleet ready? Cold temperatures, intense winds, rain and fog, these weather conditions pose unique challenges to everyone on the road. Even with the vantage of sitting high-up in the cab, heavy vehicles still have limited visibility and can present an even bigger challenge for drivers.
Over the last year, more than 2500 road collisions were due to wet roads in NSW alone. Braking, turning and maintaining a steady speed takes a high level of skill when you spend hours behind the wheel - even during good weather. Combine that challenge with heavy wind, ice and fog means driving in winter can be more dangerous. Fortunately, there are strategies you can implement across your fleet to significantly reduce this risk.
Communicate Best Practice And Expectations To Drivers
Before drivers head off, ensure weather-related safety procedures and expectations are laid out. Driving speeds that are safe and reasonable during warmer months can become dangerous during poor weather. For instance, the general rule is to leave a three second gap between you and other vehicles. But the Roads Maritime Services recommend doubling this in cases of wet weather. Reiterate expectations to drivers on dramatically reducing their speeds, being mindful of their distance between other drivers and allowing for more travel time.
Even the most experienced driver is not immune to weather-related mishaps, so encourage yours to keep a safe driving distance, store an emergency kit, including a flashlight, space blanket, first aid supplies, work or winter gloves, non-perishable snacks and water.
Keep Up-To-Date With Maintenance
Take the time to ensure all vehicles are up to code before the winter season. If an unexpected rain and hail storms strikes you don’t want to risk a break down and leaving your driver stranded in the cold. This can not only lead to heavy delays in delivery but also puts your driver at risk – especially in isolated areas with limited phone reception.
GPS fleet tracking can help you be proactive about vehicle maintenance by creating regular schedules based on engine hours or odometer readings. You can better predict when a vehicle needs attention and more easily recognise symptoms of engine failure in advance by viewing its internal diagnostics. That way you can plan and ensure when harsher weather is coming that your fleet is in peak conditions to brave the elements.
Proper maintenance also extends to tyres. Ensure your fleets tyres are in good shape and aligned drastically helps to tackle driving in winter conditions, along with ensuring they’re rotated when necessary. This ensures the risk of skidding on the road is minimised.
Develop A Winter Weather Communication Plan
If the weather is severe, roads will be more congested leading to significant delays. If this occurs, a winter weather plan can help you stay on track of your jobs. By checking for weather updates in advance you can set up driver schedules to avoid particularly bad conditions where driving isn’t advisable. Telematics lets you assign jobs to drivers electronically so when a job pops up you can assign the drivers that’s closest and reduce turnaround time. GPS tracking also lets you automatically set up routes that bypass heavily congested or closed off areas, so drivers have an easier time getting around.
Implement Technology To Alleviate Weather-Specific Challenges
Bad weather can’t always be avoided, but fleets can implement technology to help solve some challenges. Using technology, you can decrease the risk of driving in wet or foggy weather. Dispatch management tools give live traffic updates and two-way messaging lets you send updated routes and closures to a driver in-vehicle, so drivers stay safe and on schedule. Moreover, in event of a breakdown or incident, tracking lets you locate stranded drivers and send out recovery services quickly if maintenance or medical attention is required.
Rain or shine your fleet can remain safe and productive all year round with the right technology at your disposal.