Although the days will grow longer as we approach spring, they will unfortunately also get colder and wetter. The winter season always presents unique driving challenges: The roads are icier, non-commercial drivers aren’t used to the unsafe conditions, and seasonal depression increases. Fortunately, there are four verified steps your drivers can take to make sure they stay safe in the winter months.
#1 Multiply Your Follow Distance by 1.5x
According to the FMCSA, trucks driving under 40 mph should leave at least one second of following distance for every 10 feet of vehicle length, with an additional second if driving over 40 mph.
Meaning, a sixty-foot tractor-trailer traveling at 50 mph should leave seven seconds of space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them.
In icy conditions, however, your drivers are much more likely to need to come to a sudden stop, and deceleration speed is much slower than normal. Because of this, you should warn your drivers to increase their follow distance by 50% to ensure they have the time necessary to slow down.
Meaning, the same tractor-trailer should follow 10.5 seconds behind the vehicle it’s tailing in the winter.
#2 Avoid Cruise Control Entirely
Your drivers should never use cruise control during winter driving, especially when there is a strong chance of ice and slippery conditions. Cruise control doesn’t adapt to the conditions of the road, and when driving in the winter you should always be vigilant. Make sure your drivers always have conscious, direct control over the speed they’re driving at any given moment.
#3 Invest In a Sun Lamp
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), an estimated 10 to 20 percent of recurrent depression cases follow a seasonal pattern, making this a relatively common occurrence among the general population. This is especially impactful on truck drivers, who are over nine times more likely to suffer from depression than the average American.
The Mayo Clinic lists light therapy as a staple treatment for seasonal depression. During low-light seasons, drivers should expose themselves to 20-30 minutes of sun-lamp exposure within an hour of waking up.
#4 Adopt a Culture of Safety
Idelic customer PGT Trucking describes their safety culture with the saying “Safety is Everyone’s Job – All the Time.” When going about their day, drivers should always be asking themselves, “How can I do this safely?” regardless of whether they’re driving down a freeway, making a turn, or even stepping out of their truck on icy asphalt. By keeping safety top of mind, your drivers will find opportunities to improve their safety best practices in every aspect of their job.
With accidents expected to rise as we enter the heart of winter, fleets need to make sure they’re tracking all of their safety and driver behavior data. Fortunately, the Idelic Safety Suite integrates all your third-party systems into one platform, organizes your data, and uses predictive analytics to identify your most at-risk drivers. Implementing a strong culture of safety doesn’t need to be time-consuming.
Watch a short video on how you can simplify your safety here.
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