Winter weather can create dangerous conditions for drivers. Hazardous roadways, slippery surfaces, limited daylight hours, rushed delivery schedules, unexpected traffic congestion, and low visibility are among the many challenges drivers must manage in the winter months.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, over 70 percent of our nation’s roads are located in snowy regions. Even if your terminals are located in a warmer place, chances are that at least some of your over-the-road routes will take your drivers into areas with snow.
These cold-weather issues can challenge even experienced drivers, especially after months of operating in milder conditions. If your drivers run in areas impacted by winter weather, are they prepared to operate safely?
Building a Winter Safety Plan
Safety begins with awareness and planning. We can all develop complacency in performing even the most routine activities and overlook key components of our job. It is critical to safety that winter training is equally emphasized for both new and experienced drivers. Common injuries and crashes can happen to even the most seasoned professionals.
A great safety plan incorporates a yearly evaluation of your fleet’s winter driving competency. Below are a few major topics and questions to consider when assessing your fleet’s winter operation preparedness.
- Do your drivers know how much to adjust their speed in snow and ice conditions?
- Are your drivers aware of the amount of following distance to create in winter weather events?
- Do your drivers know how to create and maintain space around their vehicle?
Adjusting Accelerating, Turning, and Stopping Habits
- Do your drivers know to start trips with caution and accelerate gradually from stops?
- Is your fleet aware of the uneven and elevated surfaces that can result from snow-packed roads?
- Does your fleet know how to anticipate stops?
- Is your fleet aware of your company tire chain policy and state requirements?
- Do your drivers know how to install tire chains?
Skidding and Jackknifing
- Do your drivers know how to recognize the risk factors that contribute to skidding/jackknifing?
- Are your drivers trained in the proper recovery procedures from specific wheel skids and jackknifing?
- Is your fleet educated on items to pay close attention to during vehicle inspections (pre-trip, en route, and post-trip) in the winter months?
Night Operation and Low Visibility
- Do your drivers know proper headlight usage in low visibility and nighttime conditions?
- Do your drivers know the warning signs of fatigue and how to manage their health and wellness on the road?
- Are your drivers aware they are statistically more likely to miss work due to a non-driving injury (slips, trips, falls) than an injury that occurs while inside the vehicle?
- Do your drivers know how to dress in extreme cold?
- Do your drivers have ice cleats, and do they know how to wear them properly?
- Are your drivers aware of proper supplies to have on hand in the winter, such as snow brushes, flashlight, gloves, ice scrapers, rain gear, and extra clothing?
If you’re uncertain whether your drivers are up-to-date on these skills, it’s time to put a winter driving training plan in place. Introducing and refreshing drivers on winter safety topics can help you prevent costly injuries and accidents, keeping insurance costs down and ensuring your CSA score stays low.
Communicate the Objective
When putting a winter driving training program in place, it’s crucial that you communicate your goals for your staff clearly so they understand why it matters and is worth their time. Here are a few best practices to consider when setting up a program.
Learning takes time, effort, and concentration.
Establish an objective when assigning winter safety training. Drivers want to know the reason they are being asked to learn. Communicate the importance of heightened safety awareness during the wintertime.
Motivation increases when there’s an immediate reason to learn.
Adults learn best when training is problem-oriented rather than content-oriented. Routinely assigning valuable, timely, and effective training (such as winter safety) can help your fleet develop interest in ongoing training.
Delivering relevant, engaging training to your drivers shows them that you recognize challenges and frustrations in their job, and you want to provide the best tools and practices for them to manage those situations.
Assign and Track Progress/Completion with Tenstreet
Tenstreet’s growing standard training library of 200+ interactive and mobile-first classes can help equip your fleet with essential winter safety knowledge, along with many other valuable training bundles. These courses are optimized to be completed on phones and mobile devices for drivers on the go, allowing your fleet to stay sharp even during busy times of year. Regular driver training saves companies money in the long run by protecting the safety of your fleet, as well as keeping roads safer for everyone during the winter months.
If you are interested in taking advantage of Tenstreet’s robust library of driver training classes, contact your advisor (if you’re an existing client) or click the button below and we’ll help you get started!