Here in Canada, winter weather is just around the corner. Conditions are about to get icier, it will take longer for drivers to get from A to B, and accident risk will skyrocket.
So what can you do to keep your drivers safe this season?
Here are some simple winter driving tips that will protect drivers, and give you more peace of mind.
WANT A SAFER FLEET? HERE ARE OUR PROVEN WINTER SAFETY TIPS
How to Protect Drivers With the Right Tires
Today’s snow tires are more advanced than ever. Manufacturers continue to evolve the special rubber compounds used to make them. So, even when temperatures plummet, the rubber remains pliable, allowing it to grip the road better. When you combine this with ice-specific tread patterns, drivers are able to steer and brake more safely.
You might say, “Hey I’ve got some good all-season tires on my car. Why do I need winter tires?”
In reality, all-season tires are only good for driving during spring, summer, and fall. The tires actually don’t work well in most winter conditions. This is because the treads of all-season tires are relatively smooth and straight, which is a problem when driving on slushy roads.
A study conducted by the Quebec Ministry of Transport showed that a proper winter tire can improve braking up to 25% over an all-season tire, and can improve collision avoidance by 38%.
In Quebec, where snow tires are now mandatory, winter collisions have been reduced by nearly 20%. That should be inspiration enough for all fleet managers to put winter tires on their vehicles.
Get the Most Value From Your Winter Tires
Like anything, winter tires are designed for a specific purpose. Don’t leave them on your vehicle all year long. The compounds that make them so useful in the winter wear down quickly in the warm weather. Winter tires last only three seasons, compared to about five for their all-season cousins.
The easy way to get around at least part of the hassle of changing tires every winter and spring is to buy a second set of rims for the snow tires. They'll save you future costs when it's time to take them off in the spring.
Have You Heard of All-Weather Tires?
An excellent option that many people haven’t heard about is all-weather tires. They’re completely different from all-season tires, and drive well in milder winter conditions, heavy rain, quickly-melting snowfall, and slush. All-weather tires eliminate the cost and hassle of switching between summer and winter tires.
(Related post: Winter Driving Safety Checklist for Fleets)
How to Prepare Drivers With Safe Driving Knowledge
Make sure all snow and ice are cleared from the vehicle before sending drivers out. Emphasize how critical it is that they drive slowly. You should make any necessary scheduling adjustments to allow them ample time to arrive at service areas.
Additionally, tell drivers to increase their following distance. The Canada Safety Council recommends a distance of 8-10 seconds.
Finally, ensure drivers are familiar with correct braking procedures. Releasing the gas pedal well in advance of stopping will result in less pressure needed on the brakes.
6 Quick Safety Tips to Share With Drivers
Learn how to spot black ice. Look out for dark, wet-looking patches on the road.
If you get caught on black ice, remove your foot from the gas pedal, and avoid slamming on the brakes.
Don’t tailgate on icy or snowy roads, because these types of conditions increase stop time.
Never put your vehicle on cruise control if the weather conditions are snowy, icy, or wet. If your car skids or hydroplanes, it will result in acceleration, and you’re more likely to lose control of the vehicle.
The days are getting darker and shorter. Keep vehicle lights on to increase your visibility.
Driving on icy and snowy roads is tricky, so pay extra attention to your surroundings and what your next move is going to be.
Having the right tires are crucial for anyone driving in winter conditions. However, while snow or all-weather tires do improve winter driving safety, there are also actions drivers themselves can take to reduce the risk of accidents.
When road conditions are challenging, instruct drivers to simply slow down. Don’t fill their schedule with more appointments than they can safely meet. They’ll get where they need to be in one piece and feel more relaxed in the process.
Driving in snow and ice is a challenge at the best of times; equipped with the right tires and proper driving habits will help drivers navigate the roads better and safer.
Article by Brad Crowe
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