Aussie winters bring added challenges to managing the safety of your transport fleet. These include high winds, lashing rain, hail, fog, black ice on roads, fallen trees, and in some parts of the country, snow. Research shows that on some days, such bad weather can increase accident numbers by 20%.
This article will help you initiate, or improve, your best practice plan for winter driving and fleet maintenance.
Higher driving risks in winter
Take heed of the crash hotspots on your fleet routes. The GPS manufacturer, Navman, has worked out each state and territory’s most dangerous times for accidents throughout the year – and they’re all different.
You might look at refresher training for your drivers on how to navigate fogs. Apart from having less visibility, drivers’ perception of the risk is lower because they can’t accurately judge the driving conditions and safe distance, a study shows. Incredibly, it found most drivers preferred driving at high speeds in fogs when they could not see the vehicle in front.
Check your tyres
Avoid the risk of your trucks aquaplaning on wet roads and thereby drivers losing control of the vehicle. Triple check the tyres’ tread for cracks, bulging, bald patches, tread depth and flat spots. If you find any of those, it’s time to replace the tyres.
Regularly check the tyre pressure. If it reads 30% below the recommended PSI, your vehicle is at greater risk of aquaplaning.
Check batteries weekly
Each week, look over the battery’s terminals and cables to ensure they’re attached correctly. Are there any corrosion, cracks, or foreign material such as brake soot or grime in and around the battery’s housing? Have a stiff brush handy for cleaning. Beware of damaged housing and top up the battery fluid.
Truck batteries can run slower in colder temperatures meaning there is less power to start the engine. Even worse, they can fail due to the electrical components of the vehicle having to work harder in the cold. Tell your drivers to be alert if batteries keep losing their spark despite charging. That’s the cue to replace it.
Use the right engine oil
Opt for multi-grade and multi-viscosity engine oils in winter. Otherwise, you’ll risk the oil thickening, causing trouble when you try to start the engine.
Using the right oil will reduce friction and protect your engine from external contamination and corrosion. In short, it will run more smoothly.
Check belts and hoses for cracks
Your trucks’ belts are likely to crack in winter, rather than flex and stretch as they do in warmer months. Check them and the hoses for abrasions, fissures, or cracks.
We can guide you on risk management for your transport fleet for all types of vehicles. Typically, commercial vehicle insurance will protect your vehicle from accidental theft or damage. Optional extras include windscreen replacement and a replacement vehicle for when an accident puts your truck off the road. As part of our service, we’ll help you with claims management and advocacy, so your vehicles can get back on the road quickly.