COMBATTING WINTER HAZARDS
As frigid temperatures continue to wreak havoc across the nation, freight companies must anticipate hazardous winter weather. Dangerous road conditions and limited visibility pose a threat for even the most experienced drivers, and weather-related traffic is almost inevitable. Despite unavoidable winter hazards, freight companies must protect drivers, vehicles, and cargo without sacrificing the job.
EXPECT THE WORST
It is essential that freight companies expect to encounter winter weather at some point in the season, especially considering the unusual conditions our nation experienced earlier this year. All drivers must be prepared to handle winter road conditions – it is irresponsible to ignore the risk involved.
Providing additional training where needed can be beneficial for individual drivers, the company, and even the clients. In particular, drivers should be able to recognize dangerous driving conditions, which oftentimes cannot be avoided and must simply be waited out. Even skilled drivers can benefit from a refresher course.
Drivers should also keep certain supplies on hand in case of an emergency in winter conditions. Extra food and water are a must, as well as extra blankets and warm clothes. A battery powered radio can come in handy as well.
If there is a chance of a winter storm in the forecast, freight companies must allow sufficient time for drivers to travel through weather-related traffic in treacherous conditions. Drivers should also be informed about road conditions as well as alternate routes to their destination.
Cold temperatures can do serious damage to certain components of vehicles. It is crucial for freight companies to follow a strict vehicle maintenance routine to prepare for the weather.
Electrical components are especially susceptible to winter weather and must be checked on a regular basis. Pay particular attention to the battery, which must work harder in the cold. When applicable, inspect electrical connections between the vehicle and trailer.
Maintain rubber components, which can crack in cold temperatures when worn down. Likewise, tire pressure must be monitored and optimal treads maintained.
For the safety of the driver and others on the road, ensure that internal and external lighting functions properly, including headlights and indicator lights. Fill antifreeze liquid regularly and maintain wipers. Ensure that the heater and defroster are in working condition.