Winter weather presents new and unique challenges for those working in the transportation industry. Fleet drivers must endure everything from icy conditions to reduced visibility, meaning that proper preparation is essential for ensuring a safe and successful journey.
With added safety hazards, fleet managers are under increased pressure to fully comply with their health and safety obligations amidst winter weather. That's why we've compiled these winter tips for fleet drivers, outlining key steps drivers can take to ensure their vehicle remains road-ready all season long.
Throughout the winter, road traffic accidents become drastically more common, with a study last year finding that 23% of 2,000 drivers had been involved in a vehicle accident related to winter weather. There are several critical reasons for this.
- Surface water causing aquaplaning.
- Fog reducing visibility.
- Ice and snow reducing vehicle traction.
- Strong winds destabilising high-sided vehicles.
- Low sun and clear skies resulting in glare.
With the end of British Summer Time in late October, HGV drivers often face shorter days. The result is a considerable amount of time spent driving in the darker periods of the day.
This lack of light dramatically reduces visibility, especially in rural areas where street lighting is less extensive. Reduced light affects depth perception, colour recognition and peripheral vision, all of which can have a significant impact on your driving capability.
Fatigue is a consistent challenge throughout the commercial driving industry, and it becomes even more severe during the winter. Partially, this results from the weather and light conditions taking a higher toll on driver concentration as the reduced visibility forces drivers to be more switched on than ever.
It’s also caused by the increased working hours associated with the Festive break. Workers across many sectors see an upshot in business in the build-up to this season, and commercial driving is no different. With the effects of driver fatigue being comparable to intoxication, it’s clear that exhaustion is one of the significant challenges facing fleet drivers.
While the challenges of winter driving can seem overwhelming, the necessity of the industry to continue throughout the season is inescapable. These winter tips for commercial drivers should help you keep calm and carry on through a tricky period.
Ensuring all possible preparations are made is a great way to overcome some of the challenges outlined above. Checking your fuel tank is as full as possible will improve traction on the road and help prepare you for journeys that may take longer than planned due to adverse weather.
You might also want to brim your washer fluid and ensure windscreen wipers, windows, and mirrors are properly cleaned, as the winter surface water can result in these areas gathering more dirt than usual.
With the longer, colder nights, checking your lights are working sufficiently, as well as your other electrical systems such as batteries and defrosters, is a great winter weather tip for fleet drivers that could make all the difference.
Breakdowns and unexpectedly long journeys become more common during the winter, so it’s vital you plan to make sure you’ll have what you need to hand.
If you’re driving long distances, it might be a plan to pack some warm clothes and even a sleeping bag or blanket in case traffic or breakdown results in a longer stay than expected. In the same vein, ensuring you’ve got plenty of food and drink can help stave off exhaustion and frustration while stuck on those long, dark winter journeys.
Finally, it might be worth packing a winter-weather emergency pack too. Some items like a shovel, a robust ice-scraper and a can of de-icer, as well as the usual high visibility jackets and tow-ropes, can help to keep you and your vehicle on the move.
Awareness of the challenges and adjusting your driving accordingly is perhaps one of the most vital winter weather tips for fleet drivers.
Remember that reducing speed increases traction on the road and gives more reaction time to unexpected incidents. Similarly, knowing when to stop if the conditions become too unsafe to continue could not only save you time in the long run but also protect yourself and others from unnecessary danger.
Allowing sufficient time for breaks is another important winter tip for commercial drivers. Weather problems can often pass relatively quickly, and a short rest or bite to eat at a service station can work wonders for driver fatigue. Pulling over for a while and taking that time can help you continue your journey safely and confidently.
Here at SG fleet, we apply international experience to local knowledge to provide an exceptional quality fleet solution all year round.