Recent news has seen warnings that Britain could be hit with the coldest winter in 70 years. Whilst we know every year there are warnings of this type, many of which do not turn out to be as harsh as the news headlines predicted, now is a good time to think about how to prepare your fleet business for winter.
What are the winter weather risks a fleet business may face?
When we think about winter, we often think of cold, snowy weather. But winter is also associated with wet weather and windy conditions. All of which can cause havoc for drivers, and those who manage a fleet.
Winter can see a higher frequency of weather events including:
- Heavy rain leading to surface water and poor driving conditions
- Fog causing poor visibility
- High winds creating hazardous driving conditions, particularly for high sided HGVs and trucks
It therefore becomes even more essential to ensure your vehicle fleet is well maintained and prepared to cope with such conditions. Most importantly to keep your drivers safe, but also to keep your business on track in the face of adverse weather.
How can your fleet business prepare for winter weather conditions?
It is important to get ahead and start thinking about how you can prepare your fleet vehicles for the winter weather now. Some areas you can look at include:
Carry out regular maintenance checks
Maintenance of fleet vehicles should be a regular and ongoing process in any fleet business. But this is even more important as you prepare for winter weather. Check the basics more frequently – tyre treads (it is recommended that treads are 3mm to cope with ice and wet and slippery conditions), tyre pressures, that windscreen wipers are working efficiently, brake pads and batteries.
It is also a good idea to ensure that your vehicles are using a good strength antifreeze in both the radiator and windscreen wash to protect them.
Depending on where your drivers are driving you may also want to consider switching to winter tyres to ensure that they can best cope with heavy snow or ice.
Provide drivers with winter emergency packs
Now is a good time to get ahead and kit your drivers out with the essentials they would need if anything were to happen due to winter weather.
This may include warm clothing, blankets, torches, tow ropes, high visibility jackets, de-icer, scrapers and emergency contact information.
Remind your drivers of best practice
It’s always good to remind your drivers of the basics.
Visibility checks – drivers should ensure that their visibility is clear before driving off – that all ice has defrosted, and the windscreen demisted. Equally the vehicle should be clear of all snow before leaving. Driving off with large amounts of snow on the roof is a particular risk.
Visual maintenance checks – drivers should ensure that their lights are clear and working well. It is also important that they maintain a clean windscreen – smears can enhance glare from low winter sun for example.
Check your fleet insurance
Make sure your fleet insurance details are all up to date and that you have sufficient cover for all eventualities. Accidents can be more commonplace due to difficult driving conditions in the winter, so you need to ensure that your vehicles are well protected.
How can your fleet business respond when winter weather arrives?
Preparation is key. But it also important to think about how you will respond when winter weather events do hit.
Stopping distances increase and driving conditions can change rapidly in adverse weather so it is vital that drivers are prepared before taking to the roads.
Remind your drivers to slow down
If it takes drivers a little longer to reach their destination this has to be better for your business than your driver and vehicle being involved in an accident because they didn’t respond to the road conditions. Make sure you actively encourage this as a fleet manager so that drivers know they won’t be penalised.
Encourage drivers to use the safest routes
Some roads may be blocked or impossible to drive on. Therefore, it is important for drivers to keep up to date with traffic reports and to check weather forecasts before they set off. Make sure drivers know where to go for these updates. Driving conditions can change quickly when it comes to winter weather. Main roads are more likely to be gritted first so drivers should be encouraged to stick to these.
Avoid driving through flood water
Yes, it may be the quickest route, but you never know how deep the water will be. Driving through deep water can have serious consequences for a vehicle resulting in significant repair costs as well as potentially leaving the driver stranded.
Make sure your drivers know how to drive in a range of weather conditions
Take the time to educate yourself and your drivers about the best ways to drive in different conditions. The way to drive in snow and ice for example will vary from how you drive in heavy rain or high winds. Giving your drivers sufficient training and the knowledge with which to approach a range of scenarios will ensure they are best prepared to cope whatever the weather.
It is important for driver safety that driving is adjusted to the road conditions during the winter. Equally, ensuring that vehicles are well maintained and in the best possible condition will be key to helping driver safety. As we mentioned above, making sure that your fleet insurance is up to date and provides the cover that your business needs is another good check to make before the winter weather really sets in.
If you have any questions or are reviewing your fleet insurance provider, then do get in touch with us at Anthony Jones. We have a wealth of experience in the fleet insurance market and are well versed in helping our customers with their risk management strategies as well. Call us on 020 8290 9099 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org today.