Driving in the winter, plowing through the snow, is difficult enough in a normal sized car. For trucks, tankers, and heavy-duty vehicles, driving in the snow can amp up the dangers of trucking tenfold. For safety managers to ensure employees’ safety while driving through tumultuous weather conditions, here is what you should know.
Awareness goes a long way in making sure that your employees reach their destination safely after driving through icy weather conditions. The first thing to do is to collect information about the destination.
Tell your drivers to map out your exact route, familiarize themselves with the directions, and calculate the estimated travel times so that you can help make necessary adjustments, for example, leave an hour early to compensate for delays. Note down all the essential details and communicate them to your drivers or members of your team to avoid en route problems.
Watch the Weather
Watching the weather before your employees embark on a long snow covered journey is crucial to ensuring their safety along the way. It’s best to get local weather reports to find out what the conditions will be like during the commute. If there’s a possibility of a storm brewing, it’s recommended to delay the journey and let the storm pass before drivers leave the company premises. Blizzards, stormy high winds, heavy snow, black ice, and cold snaps can lead to poor visibility and difficult driving conditions.
Before you let your drivers get on the road for a long journey, especially when there is snow everywhere, it’s highly recommended that your drivers are prepared for any and every eventuality. The preparation is basically twofold. The first includes thorough vehicle inspection, and the second is to equip your drivers with a well-planned kit of emergency items that will help ensure their survival, should they get stranded in the snow.
Inspect the Vehicle
It’s best to have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the conditions of all the vehicle systems before your employees venture out on the road. This includes checking the:
- Tires wear and tear
- Ignition system
- Spark plugs
- Fan belts
- Anti-freeze levels
- Tire air pressure
- Fuel and emission filters
- Air filters
Any part or system that is malfunctioning, is burnt, or worn out should be checked, serviced, fixed and replaced as need be.
Essentials to Have on Hand
In case of emergency, there are a number of items which can safeguard a driver’s life through the turbulent weather. Be sure to keep the following in every vehicle:
- Full tank of gas
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- A cellular power bank and a phone fully charged
- Road maps
- Ice scraper and brush
- A detailed first aid kit
- Survival blanket
- Fresh anti-freeze
- Booster or jumper cables
- New and proper spare tire, tripod jack and wheel wrench
- Traction mats
- Tow chain
- Fire extinguisher
- Extra windshield washer/cleaner
- Reflective vest/triangles or flares
- Scissors, string, and cord
- Non-perishable food packs
- Extra clothing and shoes including mittens, socks and hats
For the safe arrival of a vehicle at the destination after a journey through snowy road conditions, it’s essential for the driver to be well-rested and focused. Driving, in general, for long periods can be a tedious, tiresome job – driving through the snow is worse. As such, it’s essential for the driver to get a minimum of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep before embarking on a long drive. Advise your employees to take a break every three to four hours and if need be, pull over for a short power nap if they feel drowsy.
More than being rested though, it’s important to remain focused on the road and surroundings, especially when navigating the vehicle through a snowstorm or a patch of black ice.
It’s highly recommended for drivers to not only be aware of the various safety protocols while driving through the snow, but it’s also important to know how to avoid skidding and collisions, and what to do in case they find themselves in the middle of a vehicular crash.
For professional truck drivers, there are a number of different training courses which teach them the proper safety protocols to follow. Furthermore, they can refer to essential literature for safety while driving in snow, readily available at the Workplace Safety and Compliance Library.