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Winter is coming – are you ready?

By Holly Dempster November 10, 2021

After a blink-and-you-missed-it summer, the autumn months are now making way for what could well be a long cold winter. And just as it’s time to get your long-forgotten jackets and thick tog duvet down from the loft, so too is it time to prepare your fleet for what’s in store.

The winter months can be challenging for fleet-reliant businesses in a number of ways. Dark nights and inclement weather make for more treacherous roads, while lower temperatures can impede peak fuel efficiency.

But while there’s nothing we can do to hold back the tide of winter, there’s plenty we can do to make sure we’re ready for its arrival. 

How to winter-proof your fleet

Check your tyres

Fleet managers don’t need telling of the importance of tyres. As the only part of your vehicles in contact with the road, it’s vital that they remain in tip-top condition – particularly in wet and icy conditions.

At the very least, you should ensure that your drivers regularly check pressure and tread depth before each journey. For extra peace of mind, consider investing in winter tyres when the temperatures drop. Thanks to a thicker compound and specialist tread pattern, winter tyres increase grip and improve braking performance in snow and ice.

Pack your bags

No, as much as we all may need a holiday, I’m not suggesting you jet off in search of winter sun. Instead, instruct your drivers to pack an emergency kit in case they run into trouble when out on the road.

Kits should include everything they’ll need to stay safe, warm and comfortable until assistance arrives. So, stock up on blankets, torches, towropes, hi-vis, food supplies and handy extras like hand warmers.

Keep a close eye on the essentials

By this, we mean anything that’s more likely to cause a breakdown during the winter, such as your batteries and fluid levels. Of course, anti-freeze is particularly important, but be sure to remind drivers to check everything from oil to coolant before setting off.

Don’t freeze!

There’s much more to think about than anti-freeze when it comes to keeping your fleet moving this winter. You should also make sure every vehicle is equipped with de-icer and a windscreen scraper to aid visibility and avoid any delays before setting off.

Think outside the box too. A quick spray of WD-40 into vehicle locks can help prevent them from freezing, while a layer of Vaseline can be used to thaw any ice that has made its way inside the mechanism.

As for batteries, the cold weather can reduce performance, so make sure drivers keep an eye on charge levels and check the cables and terminals for signs of additional wear and tear.

Prepare your drivers

Driver error or distraction is a contributory factor in many road accidents, and in low light and poor weather, the consequences can be severe.

So, long before the winter months are upon us, make sure to coach your drivers into safe behaviours. You can do this by monitoring instances of speeding, late braking, harsh cornering and more and assigning each driver a safety score. The higher the score, the safer the driver.

By ranking these scores in a league table, those at the top can be rewarded while those lower down retrained and incentivised to improve.

Build a winter checklist

Finally, it’s a good idea to put the points above and more into a handy winter checklist. This can be kept in the glove compartment and referred to whenever temperatures drop.

Your checklist should include instructions to:

  • Check headlights before every journey
  • Check all fluids and top up if necessary
  • Check wiper blades
  • Clean excess snow and ice from vehicle exterior before setting off
  • Pack emergency kit
  • Check tyre pressure and tread depth
  • Check for and replace worn belts and hoses

Your winter checklist should also include instructions detailing what to do in the event of a breakdown as well as a list of emergency contacts.

Don’t get caught out this winter

With a little extra preparation, you can help keep your drivers safe, warm and moving this winter. And a fleet management solution can help.

With eyes on your entire mobile operation, you can quickly spot signs of breakdown or poor vehicle performance and address them accordingly. Proactive maintenance alerts can also help keep your vehicles in peak condition, while live map and intelligent scheduling features help you plan for and mitigate delays caused by weather and congestion.

Want to see what your fleet could look like this winter? Arrange a demo of the Verizon Connect fleet management solution today.

Holly Dempster

Holly is the Marketing Specialist for UK & Ireland, Verizon Connect. With 5 years' experience in the IT Sector and a Journalism degree, her passion lies in the power of content. Holly's focus areas to date include, Digital, Channel and Consultative Marketing.

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