Winter weather is ready to ascend on the majority of the U.S. in the coming weeks. The cold temperatures and falling snow can lead to dangerous road conditions for drivers to navigate through.
As the temperature starts to decline, take a look at how fleets can prepare their vehicles and drivers for winter weather.
Prepare Vehicles for Weather
Cold temperatures and slippery road conditions can take a toll on vehicles. If vehicles aren’t prepared for the weather, it could lead to breakdowns – leaving drivers roadside in dangerous conditions.
One of the most important tasks an operation can do to winterize vehicles is to perform regular preventative maintenance. These scheduled PM services can allow technicians to check the vehicle and ensure it’s ready for cold temperatures and harsh conditions.
Some items that should be checked during preventative maintenance include:
- Antifreeze: Vehicles need enough antifreeze to avoid breakdowns in cold temperatures.
- Battery: Like extreme heat, cold temperatures can drain batteries. Batteries should be checked regularly.
- Fuel: During winter, fuel tanks should remain at least a quarter of a tank full. This will help prevent freezing and keep vehicles running.
- Tires: Winter driving conditions require good traction to allow vehicles to travel through snow and ice. Fleet operations can consider putting winter tires on all vehicles to get better traction. The air pressure in tires should also be checked regularly. Tires can deflate quicker in cold temperatures.
- Windshield Wipers: When snow falls quickly, vehicles need working windshield wipers to keep the snow off of the windows and allow for good visibility.
- Windshield Cleaning Fluid: Wet road conditions can cause windshields to get dirty quickly. Make sure fluids are topped off during PM so it’s available to drivers as needed.
- Heater: The heating system in the driver’s cabin should be checked to ensure the driver can successfully warm the vehicle, defrost windows and stay comfortable while driving.
Prepare Drivers for Conditions
Preparing vehicles for winter weather is only half of the work. The other half, and perhaps the more important part, is preparing drivers.
Driving in winter conditions takes special skills and training. Drivers need to know how to adjust their driving according to the conditions, and how to prepare in case of an emergency.
Drivers should prepare for winter weather in the following ways:
- Review Winter Driving Techniques: Drivers need to know how to adjust their driving habits to the current road conditions. Some of the changes drivers need to make include: giving additional space for a safe stopping distance, lowering speeds in wet road conditions, avoiding slamming on the brakes in slippery conditions, keeping a constant speed when going uphill, and trying to remain on plowed roads.
- Pack an Emergency Kit: If a vehicle breaks down in cold temperatures, drivers need to be prepared to survive in winter conditions. For their safety, drivers should keep an emergency winter kit in their vehicles. This kit can include: blankets, warm clothes, first aid supplies, water, hand warmers, flares, windshield brush and scraper, and a shovel.
- Check the Vehicle: Like technicians need to check vehicles during preventative maintenance, drivers should inspect the vehicle before each trip. Drivers should look for any visible damage to the outside of the vehicle, check the tires, check the fuel levels, ensure the heat is working in the cabin, make sure the defroster is functioning properly, check the headlights, and make sure to report any issues with the vehicle as soon as possible.
- Monitor Fuel Levels: Drivers should ensure there is at least a quarter of a tank of gas in the vehicle before starting their route. Vehicles can breakdown in the winter if there is not enough fuel.
- Watch the Radar and Weather Reports: Winter weather can change quickly, so drivers should check the radar along their route and look for weather alerts before starting their trip. This will help drivers know what to expect, and if needed, find an alternative route.
- Drive Safely: Drivers should always practice safe driving behaviors, but these can be even more important during winter. These include lowering speeds, signaling turns, staying a safe distance behind vehicles and not making aggressive maneuvers.
To learn how RTA Fleet Management Software can help your operation with preventative maintenance scheduling, contact us today to request a free demo.