As the snow begins to fall in many parts of the country, it’s important for small business owners who operate company vehicles to be aware of the potential winter driving risks for fleets that can cause accidents and costly repairs.
From snowstorms to icy roads and reduced visibility, winter driving poses a significant risk. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can keep these risks in check and stay safe on the roads this season.
Prepare Your Vehicle
The first step in avoiding winter driving hazards is to ensure that your vehicle is properly prepared for cold weather conditions. Many fleet owners take the first step and install snow tires, but there’s more you need to check. Make sure your brakes, lights, and wipers are all in good condition. Antifreeze often gets overlooked, but good coolant is crucial for an engine to operate efficiently even in cold weather. It’s also good to make a habit of checking your battery once a year at this time—and investing in software like GPS Trackit’s fleet management tool that tracks battery life and provides a warning when power is low. The typical light-duty truck battery lasts three years. As it gets older, it also becomes more susceptible to failure in harsh weather conditions. The best snow tires on the planet won’t get you moving if you can’t start the truck.
Once you’ve prepared your vehicle for winter weather conditions, the next step is to encourage crews to practice defensive driving techniques when behind the wheel. This includes leaving plenty of space between yourself and other cars on the road as it takes longer to stop on wet or icy surfaces—especially in larger, heavier trucks. The space also gives you a buffer away from other drivers who might not be operating as cautiously! Take note of vehicles following you closely, and change lanes or routes if you can. It’s also important to drive slowly and cautiously around turns and curves as black ice can be difficult to spot in advance. Finally, make sure that you are alert at all times while driving so that you can react quickly if any unexpected hazards arise.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Even with all of these precautions in place, accidents still happen during snowy months due to slick roads or poor visibility caused by snowfall or fog. That’s why it’s important to always keep an emergency kit in your car during winter months containing items such as a flashlight with extra batteries, food rations, bottled water, a first aid kit, blankets, or warm clothing (in case you get stranded), jumper cables or a booster pack (for jump-starting a dead battery), flares or reflective triangles (to signal distress), gloves and ice scrapers (for clearing off windows). These items can sometimes get overlooked when preparing company vehicles that see many different drivers. Fleet management software like GPS Trackit also offers the peace of mind that comes from knowing where every vehicle is in real time—and being able to send help when it’s needed.
Winter driving risks for fleets don’t have to slow you down when the weather gets bad. Practice these tips—and reward your crews that do well—and you’ll be adding clients all the way through to spring.