We can deny it as much as possible but wintery conditions are here for the duration – fact. After all, in 2014, figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that 29 people were killed and 251 were seriously injured in reported road accidents in Great Britain when there was snow or ice on the road surface. With the clocks soon to go back, therefore, and shorter daylight working hours setting in, how can driver safety be better guaranteed and what efficient fleet management techniques can be put in place to ensure that customer service levels don’t fall by the wayside? Read on to find out how…
Getting the technique right
Driving in cold and icy weather is often cited as hazardous and something to be avoided. This only need be the case if drivers fail to concentrate properly and up their awareness levels. Simply don’t take for granted that a normal driving technique can be used regardless of the weather. Being a bit more cautious by easing the amount the car accelerates and remaining steady while driving makes all the difference and should, in fact, become second nature where winter driving is concerned, instead of being considered a ‘special approach’ to driving that doesn’t always apply. It is best to drive slowly and leave earlier to allow for this if necessary – even where this is not possible, remain safe this obviously overrides the need to get somewhere on time.
A warm outlook?
Remember to give a vehicle time to adjust to the weather after turning the ignition. Despite misconceptions that this wastes fuel, it actually makes a car more efficient and its interior more comfortable to drive in.
On the right track yet?
There are a number of great vehicle tracking devices on the market that allow fleet managers and drivers alike to track the performance, speed and general health of their vehicle, a vital tool with which to access data and information about the impact winter driving is having on a vehicle – allowing users to recognise any issues quickly and address them at source. As nights get darker and conditions get more hazardous of course, fleet managers and employers should adopt a clear duty of care to ensure drivers are as safe as possible – and a tracking device lends itself to this perfectly.
Scott Chesworth, commercial director at RAM Tracking highlighted the essential winter concerns that device providers have to anticipate, where the dynamics of their customers’ businesses are concerned:
“Slower driving is required during hazardous and cold conditions and when combined with the delays traditionally seen at this time of year on the roads as traffic increases, profit levels can naturally dip slightly. An ideal tracking device provider should, therefore provide vital information about their clients commercial vehicles to all year around but be especially on hand to assist fleet managers and business owners with making the most out of all the features their technology provides, especially the automated reports and email alerts. By doing this it will accelerate the flow of information to make sure customer service levels are at always at an exceptional standard.
Procuring specialist winter tyres that are suited to the extreme weather is obviously crucial and something which it is important to question providers about with regards the suitability of particular brands and types of winter tyres that are suited to a specific extremity of cold weather. For safety, fitting the winter tyres that are relevant for a particular type of vehicle is crucial – for example, for tucks and lorries particularly, carrying snow chains makes sense whether they’re compulsory or not in legal terms.
This is a vital back-up for breakdowns and other issues that might occur when on the road. The perfect cold-weather emergency pack should include a thermal blanket, cash for any purchases that might be needed, a charged-up torch with batteries, an additional ice scraper, warm clothing and some sort of gravel or litter to throw loosen tyres if they have become stuck.
Windshield wipers do not improve if you ignore them. Shelling out on premium, heavy-duty snow-and-ice wipers is therefore well worth it. Ensuring that the conditions of tools like these are up to the job is vital of course and by using tracking devices, this provides a useful alert system for when this is required, in order that the law if complied with and driver safety is maintained.
Keep the tank full. More fuel means more weight, which can mean better traction. Furthermore, an empty fuel tank can be more prone to condensation, which can form in the tank and then freeze in your fuel lines, preventing a car from starting.