We couldn't resist the "winter is coming" joke but it is, and your fleet needs to be ready. The Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting a "season of shivers" and you need to be prepared.
Your business doesn't have the luxury of staying off the roads when they are covered in snow and ice. Driving in inclement weather can be stressful for drivers and hard on your vehicles. But some pre-planning and the right equipment will keep your drivers safe and your vehicles in good condition in any winter conditions.
Stay on top of preventative maintenance
Routine maintenance is the key to keeping your vehicles operating smoothly and safely all season long. With GPS tracking devices, it’s easy to make sure your drivers complete routine maintenance on a regular basis by simply inputting maintenance schedules and creating automated text message or email alerts. Maintenance schedules can be created based on miles travelled, hours of use, or scheduled dates.
Check your tire pressure
Tire pressure can drop 1 PSI for every 5°C drop in temperature. A drop of a single PSI may not seem like a significant issue, but it can adversely affect vehicle handling, braking, tire tread life, and your fuel usage. Checking and adjusting tire pressure regularly ensures that your vehicles’ tires are always properly inflated so you can rest easy knowing that your drivers and other motorists are safe on the road.
If you install winter tires at the beginning of the season, you should also make sure your lug nuts have been re-torqued. Loose lug nuts are a major safety hazard.
Avoid idling whenever possible
It's tempting in cold weather to get vehicles started in the morning and then let them idle while staying warm indoors. Experts say this is a pointless waste of fuel—and fuel efficiency already decreases about 12% in cold weather. The truth is that modern vehicles, without carburetors, do not need to be warmed up to prevent engine damage and the interior of the vehicle warms up significantly faster while driving.
Check windshield wipes and fluid
Proper visibility is, obviously, vital for safe driving. Before your drivers start to encounter wet, salty roads, make sure each vehicle in your fleet has windshield wipers in good condition and is topped off on wiper fluid. Make it a part of your drivers morning checklist to add more fluid before heading out for the day.
Pro Tip: Add dash cams to your GPS solution. Have your fleet manager check the road-facing camera each morning to spot check the visibility of windshields.
Pack a winter emergency kit for each vehicle
Your kit should include:
- Blankets and hand/feet warmers
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Flashlight, plus extra batteries
- Jumper cables
- First-aid kit
- Bottled water
- Road flares or reflective warning triangles
- Windshield cleaner
Other items to consider include a bag of sand or pet litter (for traction) and a folding snow shovel.