By RAM Tracking on 5 Feb 2019
Ah, fleet management in winter. A great time to stay off the roads. But what if you can’t?
What are the worst things about winter driving? The multiple threats to driver safety caused by ice, snow, and wet and frozen road surfaces? The challenges to fuel economy caused by unpredictable, unavoidable delays caused by weather and weather-related accidents? The prospect of any route segment being made unavailable indefinitely by sufficiently severe weather events?
How about all of the above? If you’re managing a vehicle fleet of almost any size, all of these are poised to challenge your business operations at any time.
How bad can winter driving be? Narcity.com reported the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to more than 350 accidents in the greater Toronto area in a 24-hour period following the region’s first big snow of 2019. Winter isn’t always the season during which the most accidents happen in Canada. There are more cars on the road when the weather is better. But icy, wet roads, storm-fallen trees and power lines, and other obstacles can make winter accidents more serious.
Unpredictable conditions, unexpectedly slippery roads, involvement in accidents, or sudden attempts to avoid accidents can lead to speeding or otherwise undesirable driving. Such episodes can, in turn, attract the attention of law enforcement and insurance company representatives.
Winter weather can also make drivers unavailable, increase the need for vehicle maintenance and repair, or render vehicles entirely inoperable. And the same weather that causes these problems can make vehicle repair, maintenance, and replacement more difficult and expensive.
All of these challenges make fleet management even more difficult than usual. It also makes fleet management even more essential than usual, because you need effective fleet management to navigate around the challenges most effectively.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to “winterize” your fleet, your fleet, your drivers, and your fleet management. Herewith, an essential, but by no means comprehensive, list, inspired by guidance from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and other sources. Your mileage may vary.
1. Tune them up.
2. Make sure they all have winter tires, and chains where permitted or required.
3. Keep their gas tanks full and their engines well-oiled.
4. Equip each vehicle with a brush, scraper, or some other means to clear windows and mirrors of ice and snow.
5. Make sure the tracking devices, sensors, and related software for each vehicle are functioning, fully powered, and up to date.
6. Put a list of emergency contact coordinates, including relevant phone numbers, web sites, and social media links, in every vehicle.
7. Consider providing a safety/survival kit for each vehicle and driver as well. Include at minimum gloves, booster/jumper cables, that brush or scraper, a flashlight or battery-powered torch, and a basic first aid kit.
8. Update and repeat any available training for winter driving.
9. Make sure they all know how best to respond to a skid, and to keep a respectful distance behind any snowplows they encounter.
10. Remind them to slow down and build extra time into their schedules and client expectations.
11. Encourage them dress warmly and comfortably, and to keep a safety vest, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks with them at all times.
12. Make sure they know how to keep abreast of weather developments and announcements of storm warnings and road closures.
13. Make sure you have back-up plans, people, processes, and resources in place – and where possible, tested – for as many worst-case scenarios as resources permit. Treat preparing your fleet management solutions for winter the way companies prepare effectively for disaster recovery. Your goal should be to minimize disruption to your business and your clients, in the face of the most daunting of winter’s challenges.
You can’t plan for everything, and the best of plans can be thwarted by real-life, real-time circumstances. But as is said in other contexts, “if you fail to plan, you must plan to fail.”
Contact RAM Tracking today to learn more, about fleet management and how we can help you prepare your fleet for the winter months.
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