How to Prepare Your Fleet for Hurricane Season
Atlantic hurricane season hits every year, lasting from around June to November, with many areas in the U.S. seeing the most hurricane activity in September. For fleets operating along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean in states like Texas and Florida, that means being ready for the impact that inclement weather can have on operations. For all fleets, it means being prepared for possible impacts to supply chains and shipments across the entire country.
Weather events can also put fleet drivers at higher risk while out on the road. The Federal Highway Administration attributes 21% of yearly crashes to adverse weather, like rain, fog and wind, or slick pavement.1
Read on to find out some lessons learned and helpful hurricane preparedness tips for trucking companies. We’ll explore how fleets can weather the storm and help keep drivers safe on the road with near real-time fleet management technology.
Lessons learned from past major hurricanes
In the 2017 hurricane season, NCBI conducted research on the impact of seasonal weather events on the supply chain. A few key lessons came to light, including:
- “Post-hurricane bottlenecks and disruptions arose more frequently at the distribution level than at the production level. This is in part simply because distribution occurs within the affected region, while (in many cases) much of the production occurs elsewhere.”2
- “Some of the most common factors underlying ‘last mile’ distribution challenges were shortages of trucks and drivers for goods delivery … damage to critical infrastructure also further impeded the distribution of goods.”2
- “Vulnerable infrastructure, especially for power and communications, is a predictable vulnerability, and the speed with which supply chains can recover often heavily depends on the resilience of this infrastructure.”2
3 tips for fleets during hurricane season
It’s important for the trucking industry to be prepared for severe weather events throughout the year, but past events show that June through November can be particularly critical. Here are some considerations to help fleets stay ahead of hurricane season
Focus on fuel
- Depending on where a hurricane makes landfall and the damage that it does, certain areas could see a major impact on fuel supply. It’s always a good idea to have extra fuel on hand, because even if there is no disruption to fuel availability from pipeline suppliers, prices could still increase sharply post-storm.
- If a hurricane or tropical storm does impact your region and supplies become sparse, it becomes even more important to conserve fuel as you continue operations. Fleet tracking technology can go a long way toward helping your fleet monitor fuel consumption by:
- Notifying you of wasteful idling
- Alerting you to speeding events, which also impact fuel use
- Providing optimized routing
- Tracking where and when the last fuel stop was made
- Verifying fuel card use to help prevent fuel slippage
Have a emergency plan
- Some natural disasters come with advanced notice, but that’s not always the case. It’s good to have a plan in place for your organization, especially for fleet drivers and vehicles out on the road, in the areas of the U.S. that can be hit particularly hard by a sudden storm. This could include having predetermined stopping points should the weather suddenly turn or reassigning routes to keep fewer fleet vehicles on the road.
- Fleet management technology can also be leveraged during a storm. Should a fleet driver encounter bad weather, fleet managers can use fleet tracking to:
- Stay informed of the path of the worst weather, including heavy flooding or fallen power lines that could cut off routes, and proactively route drivers around it
- Locate a vehicle in the event that a driver has an accident or vehicle malfunction in a remote location and needs the assistance of first responders
Protect your assets
- Do what you can to protect your fleet. As truckinginfo.com points out, “You can’t do much about where your fleet facilities are located in terms of storm surge and flooding, but you can protect your tractors and trailers from wind damage … [and] move as many assets as possible to high ground to mitigate damage from flooding. Park trailers as closely together as possible, with empty trailers tightly placed between the loaded trailers, to lessen the chances they’ll be blown around by high winds.”3
- In the event that trailers or unpowered assets are moved during the course of a hurricane, you can use asset tracking to pinpoint their locations. And, if thieves decide to use the cover of the storm to try to steal vehicles or assets, you can use GPS to help authorities locate and recover your property.
You can’t avoid all operational interruptions from a hurricane, especially those that happen to power, utilities or infrastructure. However, you can prepare your drivers, vehicles and company to help mitigate risk and costs.
Find out more about how fleet management technology can help.