Top tips for safe winter driving
Winter. It comes every year, and yet we tend to freeze up when first faced with the adverse driving conditions it brings. Black ice, blowing snow, and mechanical failures are some of the leading reasons behind the many winter-related accidents reported by businesses every year. This year, get ahead of the winter challenges your fleet faces. We’ve compiled a list of winter driving tips to share and discuss with your drivers to help keep everyone safe and warm throughout the season.
- Start with clearing off any and all snow/ice you can see on the vehicle – don’t forget the roof. Brush off what you can reach and be sure to fully defrost your windows and mirrors before getting on the road. Telescopic brushes are available if you find it difficult to reach across the roof of the vehicle.
- Check and maintain your fluids. Keep the gas tank at least half full; when the tank is less than half full, there is more potential for condensation to form within the tank and that can freeze and cause major issues. Plus, if you’re stranded you’ll be happy you have enough fuel to keep the vehicle running, and you warm. Also, replace or top up window washer fluid with an anti-freeze formula.
- Next come tires. In no uncertain terms, your vehicle needs to be equipped with winter tires. Not all-season tires. Winter tires are needed for driving below 45°F (7°C); in fact, the more the temperature drops (down to -22°F (-30°C)), the better winter tires perform. Check the tire pressure as well; for every 41°F (5°C) drop in temperature, tires lose one pound of air pressure.
- Perform a quick overall inspection before and after long hauls, or at the start and end of every day. For example, check that tires are decent and still have a deep tread, fluids are topped up, wipers are in good condition, the battery has enough life, the thermostat is accurate, and that all the elements that account for driver comfort are functioning properly. This way you can address any issues before they create problems.
- Driver comfort is an important element when it comes to safety, too. Wear layers you can remove once in the vehicle. You’ll want to do this so that you stay warm without being hindered by a bulky jacket that can limit your mobility when you’re checking blind spots and/or backing up. And wear proper boots to minimize any falls, especially when getting in and out of the vehicle.
- Create a winter driving kit to keep in the trunk or back of the vehicle. Pack the kit with essentials such as a flashlight, blanket, rain coat/poncho, first aid kit, extra hat and gloves, jumper cables, a cell phone charger, sand/kitty litter/salt for traction, a bottle of water, and a couple of small snacks with a long shelf life like granola or protein bars.
- And above all else – drivers who don’t feel safe shouldn’t drive. Should driving conditions become too difficult or dangerous, park somewhere safe and contact management in order to develop a plan to address customer demand while keeping everyone safe.
Reviewing these tips with your drivers should be the gentle reminder they need to keep safe while driving this winter. Taking this a step further, you may also want to consider creating standardized driving kits for your drivers and distributing them while reviewing safe winter driving practices. This way you can ensure your drivers are both mentally and physically prepared for the winter ahead, while protecting your workforce and operation at the same time.