Record amounts of snow and life-threatening cold hit the Northern Rockies last weekend, signaling that winter is not only on its way, it is here. For the trucking industry that means winter prep for every truck in the fleet, as well as the not so obvious preparation in fleet financials and cards.
From Fuel Blends to Driver Techniques
Most truck drivers understand how important preparing their vehicle is for maintaining productivity as well as safety. Fleet maintenance shops are busy inspecting trucks for cold weather conditions from tires and wipers to fuel blends. While tires are the obvious winter accessory to pay attention to, the right diesel fuel can make or break a delivery schedule.
Diesel exhaust fluid can freeze at temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit even while a vehicle is idling, and low fuel tanks can trap condensation, which is prone to freezing.
— Bill Dawson, Vice President of Maintenance Operations and Engineering, Ryder System
Drivers should also be prepared to handle their vehicles in any conditions, and fleet managers should have all drivers trained for heavy weather before the first snowfall. Safe driving techniques should never be taken for granted; fleet managers should monitor fleet data that tracks driver behavior throughout the season to understand where focus is needed. HDT TruckingInfo has outlined precautions that drivers should always keep top of mind while they are inside the cab of their vehicle.
10 Tips for Winter Driving (Never Taken for Granted)
1. Wear a seatbelt (should go without saying but this is always #1)
2. Watch the dashboard lights signaling any maintenance problems
3. Be mindful of current conditions
4. Allow 20 or more feet of additional space for a safe stopping distance
5. Avoid hitting the brakes suddenly
6. Avoid idling at extremely low temperatures
7. Keep snow and ice off the roof for the safety of other motorists
8. Have a checklist to stay prepared for the worst
9. Keep an emergency supply of water, blankets, clothes, and non-perishable food in case of stranding
10. Have a maintenance plan and partner in-house or outsourced
Vehicle inspection and preparation combined with these tips is just the beginning of winter prep for the trucking industry. Fleet managers are also preparing fleet financials and financial services as well as fleet data to help provide insights into driver performance, maintenance lapses, and even fuel purchases.
Winter Safety in Data and the Right Tools
Keeptruckin.com suggests you start with data from last year. Data on driver behavior and maintenance lapses can provide insights for safety in winter weather conditions, and data will also show what areas of the operations may have negatively impacted the operations of the fleet overall. Inefficiencies in fuel usage and pricing can be identified, offering better management and cost efficiencies going forward. ELD data can also show driver safety scores and vehicle usage rates, which will help to maintain compliance as well as a healthy bottom line.
Fleet financial data delivered through the use of fleet cards can also be invaluable in preparing for the winter season. A reliable fleet card solution can be one of the best tools to have in any season but is especially valuable in winter, when emergencies are more likely. Fleet fuel cards can help managers and drivers both stay ahead of the unpredictable. Payment leader EFS/WEX’s fuel card solutions provide benefits that can save money and possibly even lives, such as:
- Fleet fuel cards with automatic expense tracking, enhanced security, and detailed reporting.
- Immediate access to cash or payments to keep your fleet running in any weather, especially winter conditions.
- Powerful mobile apps to access your account, and help drivers find the cheapest nearby fuel, pay at the pump, and even secure emergency lodging.
- Premium GPS telematics for tracking vehicle location, speed, fuel use, and more—to capture the data you need to ensure safety in winter conditions as well as maintain the bottom line.
- Advanced analytics software to keep you informed, show you new ways to save, and streamline your overall fleet operations as well as prepare for winter driving conditions through tracking driver behavior and more.
- A U.S.-based customer service team that takes pride in being there 24/7, always ready to take your call and help with efficiencies in business and safety on the road.
So, while snow falls on the Rockies in October, fleet managers across the country are doing more than scheduling winter maintenance checks. They are looking at every aspect of the business, from fleet data and driver behavior to fleet financials and fuel — all in an effort to prepare for what the winter might hand them, the least of which is the snow.