When you run a fleet, safety is always one of your top priorities. In the winter, when roads are slick and visibility can be limited, it’s essential to ensure your drivers’ safety. If you’re new to fleet management, you may not know where to start.
More than 70% of the nation’s roads are in snowy regions, so winter preparedness is a must for most fleets. While wintery hazards can seem intimidating, there’s no reason to worry if you take the right steps. Here’s how you can keep your fleet safe this winter.
1. Communicate Clearly and Frequently
Communication is crucial to the success of any fleet operation, especially during winter. Keep a close eye on forecasts along drivers’ routes and update them about any inclement weather. If they know to expect ice or snow, they can prepare and look out for these hazards.
Your drivers should also communicate any updates with your operations center. They could notice hazards before you see them on weather or road condition apps. You can then warn other drivers or adjust their routes accordingly.
Winter weather can interfere with some wireless signals, so make sure you have a reliable way to communicate. You may want to include a backup system that you can use if one method fails.
2. Pay Attention to Your Tires
As winter approaches, start putting winter tires on your vehicles. If your drivers will go through particularly snowy or mountainous regions, you should equip them with tire chains too. You could go the extra mile by keeping chains in your truck cabs at all times.
Having the right treads is only half of the equation when it comes to tire safety. You also need to ensure that you inflate all tires to the proper pressure, or they won’t grip as well. For a 12,000-pound front axle, your steer tire pressure should be 110 psi, and your drive and trailer tire pressure should be 95 psi.
3. Monitor Everything
If you haven’t already implemented fleet management software and IoT devices, winter is the ideal time to do so. These technologies will let you see where your drivers are at all times, so you can watch for any hazards in real-time. You can also use this sytem to ensure your drivers are driving safely.
Companies that have a policy about checking phone records report fewer crash rates than those that don’t. While monitoring all cell phone use at all times may not be possible or legal, you can check drivers’ phone activity while they’re on the road. These checks will help enforce your phone policy, keeping your drivers safe.
Your drivers’ location and driving behaviors aren’t the only things you should monitor. You can use IoT sensors to look at factors like tire pressure and engine performance. If you notice something out of place or potentially risky, you can warn the driver.
4. Choose and Train Your Divers Carefully
You can take steps to improve safety before your fleet even starts driving. Whether you’re starting a fleet for the first time or looking for seasonal drivers, vet your drivers carefully. Look at their driving history, avoiding anyone with records of impaired driving or multiple accidents.
After you hire drivers, you need to train them thoroughly according to your company’s safety standards. The American Society of Safety Professionals says you should include both behind-the-wheel and computer-based training programs. Make sure you go over specific weather-related hazards to keep them safe in winter.
It doesn’t hurt to have periodic assessments, either. This practice will ensure drivers stay up-to-date on all safety procedures and help eliminate bad behaviors from complacency.
5. Equip Your Drivers
Ideally, your safety measures will prevent any accidents from happening in the first place. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t stop accidents. Only a third of truck crashes result from truck driver error. So no matter how effective your safety measures are, you should equip your drivers with an emergency kit.
All drivers should carry tools and some spare parts to do basic repairs if necessary. In the winter, they should also have extra warm clothes, blankets, canned food and a snow shovel in case a crash renders their vehicle immovable. Hopefully, they’ll never be in an emergency, but it’s best to prepare just in case.
Stay Safe This Winter
Driving in the winter can be intimidating, especially when large vehicles are involved. If you follow these five steps, though, you can keep your drivers and other people on the road safe. Some processes may seem like a hassle, but you can’t put a price on safety.