How to prepare your fleet for on the road emergencies

Winter is coming and though it doesn’t bring the dangers from the Game of Thrones world, it does bring its own problems for fleets in terms of on the road emergencies.

With poor visibility and poor road traction, the icy roads and cool conditions pose some serious safety risks to your fleet’s drivers. With some simple preparation, your fleet can keep up productivity, keep drivers safe, and get them back on the road if an emergency does arise.

5 steps to emergency preparedness in your fleet

1. Create a plan

Luck favors the prepared, so take the time to create or review an emergency plan for your drivers. This plan should outline the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved, communication plans and a chain of command, information on outside vendors, and a schedule for emergency repairs.

The best way to start your plan is to review last year’s data to identify problems or patterns when it comes to emergencies. Are there specific areas more prone to cause problems for drivers? Are there certain drivers who had a higher number of emergencies? Were there any lapses in maintenance or fewer safety inspections prior to a vehicle being on the road?

Use your data to identify common issues that could lead to expensive emergencies and repairs and find proactive solutions to implement before the snowy season starts.

Finally, plan ahead and stock up on emergency supplies and parts to reduce downtime and costs.

2. Train drivers

Train your drivers on how to identify emergency situations, like panic stops, over-correcting, a tire blowout, hydroplaning, and so on so they can be the first line of defense. Tell them to increase following distance to 10 seconds to avoid collisions and prevent accidents before they happen.

They should also be trained on how to change a flat tire, jump a car, and how to use road flares. The more drivers can handle on their own, the faster they’ll be back on the road and it’ll be more cost-effective than having an emergency crew drive out.  

Take the time to revisit your safety program and procedures and remind drivers to always use their seatbelt, take their breaks, and follow your distracted driving policies, especially cell phone policies.

3. Prepare the vehicle

Winterize your fleet’s vehicles as much as possible to stop a potential problem in its tracks. Fleet technicians should be double checking:

  • Tires: Always check tire pressure before the vehicle leaves for a job site, invest in winter or all-season tires, and be on top of the tire rotation schedule.
  • Battery: Test the battery and replace if necessary.
  • Fluid: Use a winter-prescribed engine oil and check all fluid levels.
  • Internal components: Do a thorough check of the engine belts, hoses, and fans to ensure they’re in working order.
  • Gas: Provide fuel cards to drivers so the tank is always at least half full to avoid a gas line freeze.
  • Windshield: Use a water repellent coating on the windshield and check windshield wipers.

4. Stock the vehicle

Now that the vehicle is prepared to handle an emergency situation, make sure your drivers are equipped for the winter roads.

  • Phone and phone charger: Any phone can place emergency 911 calls, so keep a cell phone in the glove compartment for emergency calls, as well as an extra charger.
  • Maps: Stock paper maps in the vehicle in case the driver can’t get GPS connectivity or their phone dies.
  • Emergency kit: Pack an emergency kit in the vehicle, complete with: Blankets, antifreeze, a first aid kit, an ice scraper, non-perishable snack bars, water, reflective triangles, flashlight, jumper cables, a shovel, gloves, a tool kit, cat litter, and tire chains.

5. Save money in your rainy-day fund

Having a contingency budget is always a good idea as we prepare for winter. Put away some of your budget into a rainy-day fund to cover any unexpected weather-related accidents or costs.  Worst case scenario is you don’t use it and can use those funds for your driver of the month program or invest in new technology for your fleet.

Interested in how Derive can help keep your drivers safe and reduce driving risks? Contact us to learn more about our fleet vehicle optimizations!