Sub-zero Temps? Snowpocalypse? Icy Conditions?

When winter weather rolls around, a new set of safety challenges comes with it. Whether you’re facing winter snowstorms, heavy rains, low temperatures or icy roads, taking steps to weatherize vehicles and drive smart can keep your drivers safe, your fleet on the road and your business rolling.

These actions are more critical in the event of a “polar vortex” or the rare winter storm that just blasted parts of the Southeast with snow, sleet and freezing rain. In the wake of the storm, roads remain closed and service limited in many parts of South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Virginia. Wherever your fleet goes, make sure your vehicles and drivers are prepared.

ryder winter driving tips

10 Tips for Preparing Your Fleet for Safe Winter Driving

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to safe winter driving. Always check your local forecast and news outlets before heading out. And, consider these guidelines to prepare your fleet.

  1. Keep vehicles maintained. Standard inspections and regular preventive maintenance can help avert potential issues before they become bigger problems down the road.
  2. Inspect vehicles before and after trips: check batteries, ground cables, alternators, drive belts, antifreeze, thermostats and fuel, intake and cab climate controllers to identify required repairs.
  3. Train drivers on driving in bad weather conditions, emergency maneuvers, what to do in an accident and when to get off the road.
  4. Equip vehicles with emergency kits stocked with supplies like ice scrapers and de-icers, chains or traction mats, a brush, rags, small shovel and extra windshield washer and antifreeze.
  5. Use quality winter-blended fuel in your fuel tanks. When temps drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, add a diesel fuel anti-gel additive.
  6. Stock vehicles with personal items in the event that a driver is stranded – extra clothing, gloves, a flash light with fresh batteries, blankets and first-aid supplies.
  7. Driving in extreme cold? Always respond to the first manual regeneration light you see.
  8. Make sure vehicles have engine block heaters designed to maintain temperature. Keep vehicles running when temperatures drop below -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Keep fuel tanks at least half full at all times given the potential for road closures.
  10. Driver safety always comes first; please ensure safe driving conditions at all times. Encourage drivers to listen to forecasts and be aware of changing weather and road conditions.

10 Tips for Safe Winter Weather Driving

Wherever you’re driving, if you’re affected by winter weather conditions, follow these 10 tips to drive safe:

  1. Compensate for poor traction by increasing following distance, slowing down, and making all movements gently.
  2. Check for ice by feeling the back of your mirror and watching the spray off tires.
  3. Get in the habit of easing up on bridges.
  4. Try to build as much distance as possible between your vehicle and other vehicles. Avoid driving in packs.
  5. The road may be slickest during the first few minutes of rain.
  6. In a skid:
    • Depress the clutch fast
    • Look at the left mirror only
    • Steer and counter-steer as fast as you can to get back in front of the trailer
    • Keep fighting it
  7. Watch for melting or hard-packed snow and strong side winds.
  8. Watch for the trailer pushing you on curves and turns.
  9. Remember: don’t ask your unit to do more than it can.
  10. If you don’t feel comfortable driving – park it, period.

These best practices can help keep your drivers, fleet and business safer in all weather conditions. When it comes to weatherizing your fleet and taking precautions, safe business is good business.