Snowpocalypse. Polar Vortex. Snowmageddon. Winter snow, ice and cold weather can be pretty scary, not to mention create adverse driving conditions and cause additional dangers on the roads. The time has come to prepare your fleet for safe winter driving. Be sure to prepare your fleet vehicles and get your employees together to cover safe driving best practices. This also makes for a perfect time to review your distracted driving policy.
The safety of your employees on the road is your number one concern. You can take a few steps in advance to help keep your employees safe on the road during the winter months and help them be prepared in the event of an accident or breakdown. Here are a few we recommend:
When planning routes, allow extra time for your employees to get where they’re going. Nothing adds danger to bad driving conditions like being in a rush to get where you’re going. You’ll also want to be sure your fleet vehicles are well maintained. Seasonal inspections help keep tires appropriately filled, lights in working order, and alert you to potential issues before they cause a breakdown or accident out on the roads. Be sure the windshield washer fluid is full and windshield wiper blades are working well or replaced if necessary. Equip your vehicles with emergency kits including items that may be necessary in case of an emergency such as:
- Ice scrapers and snow brushes
- Traction mats
- Gloves and a blanket
- A small shovel
- A flashlight
- A water bottle and a few non-perishable foods
- First aid supplies.
Preparing Fleet Vehicles
Some of the most important steps your drivers can take toward safe winter driving happen before they even put the vehicle in drive. Preparing vehicles is just as important as what happens once drivers are on the road. Remind your drivers to:
- Remove snow and ice from all windows, mirrors, lights, license plate, and the roof of your vehicle
- Allow the vehicle to warm up before driving and give themselves sufficient time to remove ice and snow from the outside
- Remove fog and ice from the inside of a vehicle but turning off air recirculation and using your electric window defrost feature if the vehicle is equipped
- Have extra windshield washer fluid for when other vehicles spray dirt-soaked slush onto your windshield
- Keep their fuel at or above half a tank in case of weather-related road closures or getting stranded in inclement weather
Safe Driving Habits
This may seem like a given but it helps to remind your drivers of safe driving habits at the beginning of each season. Different weather brings different dangers and ways to combat them.
- Do not rely on cruise control when conditions are favorable for slippery roads
- Reduce speed. Speed limits are generally based on ideal road conditions.
- Avoid hard stops and fast turns; turn gently. Accelerate and brake gradually
- Keep extra space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you
- Keep your eyes on the road and scanning - look far ahead of you to detect problems early and be prepared for braking
- Get in the habit of easing up on bridges especially since they freeze first
- Be on the lookout for black ice
In Case of Emergency
It’s important your drivers are prepared for emergencies and know how to react appropriately. Go over how to handle skids, visibility issues, white-out conditions, accidents, etc. Here are a few important reminders:
If you slide or begin to skid, slowly decelerate and do not overcompensate by steering in the opposite direction. If you get stuck in the snow it helps to keep some cat litter, sand or salt in your vehicle to help add traction so you can get out. Your floor mats can also be used for added traction in a pinch. Lightly press your accelerator and ease out of the snow; spinning your wheels just digs you deeper. If visibility becomes an issue reduce your speed slowly and, if necessary, make your way to the shoulder bring cautious of faster moving traffic.
Driving Requires Your Undivided Attention
The most important thing to remind your employees is that driving, especially in winter conditions, requires their full attention. They need to be focused on driving and getting where they’re going safely. Driving in bad weather conditions necessitates even more concentration than usual and requires you be constantly adjusting your speed and position on the road to avoid issues. Even if there’s a song on that you don’t like or you’re running late to a meeting, your safety needs to come first. You can apologize for being late once you get there safely. If you need to adjust your navigation system, pull over or wait until a red light (depending on what your company policy dictates).
Each season brings unique driving challenges. The safety of your drivers is your number one concern, so take the steps necessary to prepare your fleet now, before the temperatures drop and snowflakes start to fall. For additional support managing your fleet, contact us at Union Leasing to discuss our risk management and driver safety programs.