Weather experts have predicted a particularly harsh winter on its way in 2015/16. We might have already seen signs of what is to come in the form of Storm Desmond which severely affected parts of Cumbria and Lancashire earlier this month.
And while you might not be able to prepare your commercial fleet against ‘once-in-a-century’ flooding, you can take steps to improve the safety and efficiency of your fleet before the worst of the weather sets in.
Use the checklist below to evaluate your fleet’s level of preparedness.
Tyres are a good place to start for your winter checklist. If your fleet is travelling long distances, particularly to colder locations where the roads might not be as good then you should think about investing in winter tyres for your fleet (at least over the drive axle anyway).
Make sure all tyres are correctly inflated according to the operator’s manual. The argument that overinflating tyres is better for winter driving is a myth and it’s usually best to stick to the manufacturers recommended PSI or BAR levels.
Battery charging should be checked regularly through winter as cold weather makes the vehicle battery work much harder.
All lights should be checked regularly for both dipped and full beam, indicators and rear lights. Also, make sure that your drivers are clearing the lights of any snow and ice before driving.
A clean air intake is important for visibility. You should keep air intake grills free of leaves, snow and ice all throughout winter.
Checking fluids should already be a part of your maintenance operations, but it is best to double-check before the winter driving season. Radiator fluid, antifreeze, powertrain oil and washer fluid should all be topped up if necessary.
To ensure your drivers have the best visibility you should equip them all with a suitable windscreen maintenance kit. This should include a soft brush, ice scraper, de-icer spray and a warm pair of gloves.
Checking that windscreen wipers are working and that washer fluid levels are topped up will also ensure better visibility, particularly when there is a lot of grit and salt in the air.
Preparing for the worst is important for fleet managers. Equip your drivers with an incident kit including a first aid kit, a map, an ice-scraper, a torch, warning triangles, flares, a tow rope, jump leads, a shovel and a mobile phone.
Spraying locks with WD-40 before the cold weather sets in is a good way of avoiding the embarrassment of missing a delivery deadline because a truck lock was frozen.