Preparing Your Fleet Drivers For Winter Conditions
Whilst winter is a challenging time for drivers, it can be even more demanding for fleet drivers. Larger, heavier vehicles are simply harder to drive and manoeuvre; they represent a greater responsibility and require a greater amount of skill to navigate. Fleet managers and decision-makers need to ensure that their drivers are aware of how to approach winter driving conditions safely and responsibly.
Prepare Your Vehicles
It doesn’t matter how capable your drivers are, they’re only as good as the vehicles they’re driving. Conduct thorough checks on all of your fleet vehicles, the essentials are: radiators, wiper blades, lights, exhausts, heaters, tires, brakes and batteries. Getting them serviced in bulk can be pricey, but it’s cheaper than experiencing breakdowns. Immobile vehicles after all don’t generate business. You should also weigh up the pros and cons of having the likes of winter tyres installed. These will provide drivers with much more grip and, even in the absence of other mechanical faults, will prevent drivers from getting struck and stranded in particularly poor weather.
Inform Your Drivers Of The Risks
It’s useful to know how knowledgeable your drivers actually are when it comes to safe driving in general. Most employers, especially SMEs, tend to check for appropriate qualifications and endorsements and then leave staff to their functions; in which they’ll either function or fail. But the issue is more complex and on-going than this. Drivers need be consistently made aware of risks, obligations and duty of care considerations. You can’t do this effectively without knowing what they know and what they don’t. Simple questionnaires are a good way around this. In terms of winter, ask about how hills, curves and steering etc should be approached. Make sure that answers are analysed and, if necessary, corrected. All of this means your drivers will have a better idea of how to behave behind the wheel and you’ll be demonstrating clear duty of care to boot.
Drivers should be behaving in a certain way whilst behind the wheel in winter time, they should understand what this consists of and why it’s important. Practically, they should be sticking to main roads (which are better cared for and gritted), avoiding driving through deep water (anything more than 10cm), reducing speed and using head and fog lights as and where appropriate. Also encourage them to listen to weather forecasts and to keep a charged mobile phone with them at all times. They should also know how to react should they find themselves in an accident or breaking down; official guidelines should direct them on how to respond quickly, safely and efficiently.