When winter hits, there are a variety of things business owners need to consider, ranging from preventative measures against slips, trips, and falls to safety measures while driving.
Winter driving presents hazards every year for commercial drivers such as decreased starting and stopping abilities, poor traction, slippery roads, reduced ability to stop, and reduced visibility (both to see and be seen). That’s why it’s especially important to make sure that all of your equipment is operating properly before getting out on the road.
Fleets need to take extra precautions to keep equipment running in extreme winter weather. Air systems, batteries, and electrical systems, as well as fuel and diesel particulate systems, are just some of the items that require additional attention in pre-winter servicing.
To help, here are six suggestions of things you can check in your vehicles before someone gets behind the wheel, as well as some things to avoid.
- Winterize vehicles: Closely examine the tires, batteries, belts, hoses, anti-freeze air systems, brakes, heater, and defroster as well as windshield wipers. Keep fuel tanks more than half full to prevent moisture problems and add weight.
- Fuel and fuel tanks: Fuel and fuel tanks require extra attention when snow and ice are present. Fuel tanks need to vent to work properly, and if that vent becomes blocked with snow or ice it won’t work. Diesel fuel needs to be treated in winter months to ensure it doesn’t gel.
- Lights and markers: Make sure all the lights work and are clean. Carry a small spray bottle of windshield fluid and a rag to clean off headlights, taillights, and mirrors every time you stop. While every component of a pre-trip inspection is important, during the winter when the days are long and dark and the weather can be stormy, lights and markers need extra attention.
- Tires: The traction between tires and the road determines how well a vehicle rides, stops, and turns, which is crucial to safe winter driving. When you expect heavy snow or icy roads, use chains when required or allowed by law. Businesses should train employees on how to install chains to tires. Check the tread depth and monitor tire pressure. As a rule, tire pressure drops 1p.s.i. for every 5-degree Celsius drop in temperature, but be sure to check manufacturer recommendations.
- Regeneration: Pay attention to exhaust aftertreatment systems in cold months. Heat is essential for them to work properly and it is sometimes hard for systems to reach the necessary temperatures.
- Cold soaks: Avoid leaving a vehicle idle and shut down for more than a day in extreme cold weather. When the engine block and fluids drop to ambient temperature, a cold start can cause a tremendous amount of wear and tear. Use block heaters or engine pre-heaters as required.
Failure to prepare vehicle equipment for winter months may leave you stranded on the side of the road. Extra care during pre-trip inspections and good winter preventative maintenance plans can ensure equipment works all winter long.
To learn more about risks your business may face in the winter and steps you can take to protect yourself, your employees, and your bottom line, visit our blog.