Winter can wreak havoc and cause a lot of problems. Whether it is wind, snow, rain, or freezing rain, fleet truck drivers have to be prepared to face winter hazards that pop up. When they are not prepared, winter conditions can result in loss to your bottom line in the terms of workers’ compensation claims and loss of equipment.
The most common winter-related accidents include:
- Reduced or limited visibility.
- Reduced or limited traction.
- Braking aggressively on a slippery road.
- Unable to judge safe speed in winter conditions.
- Unable to negotiate a curve properly.
- Unable to properly shift on a slippery road.
- Poor vehicle preparation.
- Poor route planning.
- Unable to adapt to weather pattern changes.
Tips to Keep your Fleet Drivers Safe in the Winter
Fortunately, there are several ways you can help keep your fleet drivers safe this winter.
- Be Prepared
First and foremost, when your fleet drivers are driving during colder weather, they need to be ready to face whatever they might encounter. Sure, this is common sense, however, many drivers simply hop in their vehicles and begin driving when the weather looks good only to end up in a winter storm. Make sure your drivers prepare themselves with jumper cables, extra windshield washer fluid, a bag of salt, salt, sand, or kitty litter, a windshield scraper, traction mats, or tire chains and ensure they have a half tank of gas at minimum.
- Don’t Drive Tired
Drivers should never drive while fatigued. They should get a proper amount of sleep or rest before they begin driving in the winter weather. If anything, have them keep their windows open slightly to let in the fresh air and keep them alert.
- Follow at a Safe Distance
Drivers should never tailgate and should allow themselves a safe following distance. They should separate their trucks from other vehicles as much as they can to allow them enough stopping time if necessary. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a ten second following distance if they are driving on icy and snow covered roads. They should not drive in packs either.
- Do a Pre-Trip Inspection
Fleet drivers should be inspecting their vehicles before each trip. This includes doing a visual, hands-on inspection and checking essential items like wiper blades, tires, lights and fluids. Inspections should be done more frequently during colder temperatures.
- Get off the Road if Conditions Look Bad
Drivers should never just assume that roadways are plowed and treated. They should use their best judgement and listen to weather warnings and reports so they can react appropriately. If the roads are too slick, have your drivers pull over and park until it is safe to continue driving.
Winter can be scary and hazardous. Preparing ahead of time will help your drivers stay safe on their trips and help them deal with an emergency. If they are not comfortable driving down a road in bad weather, they shouldn’t. Let them know it is fine to pull over or find a partner who can drive with them and support them during bad weather.
It is also important that you have commercial auto insurance for your fleet truck business in case one of your drivers does have a winter-related driving accident. A good workers’ compensation policy is also essential in case a driver is hurt in one of these accidents. Preparation is far more than just good driving habits.