Summer is a season of great opportunity: High demand for field service and longer days mean more business and more work for drivers. But summer driving for a fleet also means dealing with the heat, which can have debilitating effects on your drivers if you aren’t careful.
Follow these six tips to make sure you’re keeping your drivers healthy, safe, and on the road through the summer months.
Train Crew Managers on the Signs of Heat Illnesses
Driver health needs to be a basic part of your crew training procedures. Teach your crew managers to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, and what to do when they see it. Drivers might not realize they are experiencing symptoms until it’s too late, so it’s essential for managers to be proactive in preventing heat-related illnesses. Heat exhaustion can cause fatigue, headaches, and nausea, and in severe cases, can lead to heatstroke, which can be deadly.
Drinking plenty of water is essential when working or driving under intense sun exposure. As the body perspires, fluids are lost and need to be replaced to avoid dehydration. By the time you experience feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated—and you’re putting your health at risk. Encourage drivers to drink water, provide them with water bottles, or install a water cooler in your office or trucks. Dehydration can make a person feel groggy or sluggish—which can translate into more accidents and vehicle downtime.
Take Breaks as Necessary
Rest breaks help reduce stress and exhaustion levels, and provide an opportunity for drivers to hydrate and recharge before continuing their journey. Breaks should be scheduled in cooler areas and be long enough to allow the body to cool off properly. When equipping your fleet, keep in mind that air-conditioned trucks not only keep drivers comfortable but also serve as a recruiting and retention benefit when competing for experienced drivers.
Prepare for High-Risk Days
No matter what climate you operate in, some days are unavoidably hotter and more dangerous than others. Prepare both your drivers and vehicles for those days by plotting routes that allow for the most strenuous work to happen early or late in the day. And make to do any preventative maintenance that can help avoid a breakdown—where drivers will be stuck out in the sun waiting for a repair truck to arrive.
Ensure Crews Are Dressed Appropriately
Dressing appropriately can help reduce the intensity of the sun’s effects on your drivers. Outfit your crews in breathable and lightweight clothing to help them stay cool while they work. Long sleeves and pants can also have a cooling effect, provided they are made of cooling or breathable fabric. Drivers should also wear hats and sunglasses to protect their faces and eyes from the sun.
Keep an Eye on One Another
Lastly, every driver should be encouraged to look out for their colleagues. Promote a culture where drivers can openly and honestly discuss how they are feeling and ask for someone else to take over their shift if they need a break. Create an environment where drivers can safely express how they are feeling, without being afraid of repercussions.
GPS Trackit’s suite of fleet management software can help you manage your crews and vehicles more safely and efficiently. To learn how, talk to a Fleet Advisor today for a free demo.