This article details 10 proactive winter driving safety tips for truck drivers and all other employees, to help ensure they stay safe on the road.
Published 26 Jan 2023
Between icy roads and limited visibility, winter driving can be very dangerous. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that employees are properly trained and prepared to drive safely in winter weather conditions.
Driving safely in the winter is as much about preparing to drive safely as it is maneuvering your vehicle responsibly and defensively. These 10 tips cover preparation and driving.
Creating an emergency preparedness kit is an essential part of winter driving safety. This kit should contain supplies that can keep drivers safe, warm, fed, and hydrated if they become stranded in their vehicle due to harsh weather conditions or a traffic accident. It should also include tools to help alleviate the emergency situation.
Your employees’ emergency kits should include:
If an employee’s vehicle stuck or if they get into an accident, do you have a plan in place to ensure they receive emergency assistance? If they are driving outside of mobile coverage, how will they contact you or the authorities?
Detailing an emergency response plan in your lone worker safety policy ensures that everyone involved knows what to do when an emergency occurs. The hard part is communication during the emergency.
Deploying a lone worker safety solution, such as SHEQSY, can protect employees in real-time while keeping them connected.
SHEQSY makes it easy for you to manage, monitor and report on lone worker activities in real-time from one user-friendly dashboard. Via the SHEQSY smartphone app, employees can share their real-time locations; quickly and easily activate their duress to receive emergency assistance; check-in periodically to confirm their wellbeing; share hazard and incident reports; update managers with location notes; complete safety audits and checklists; and more.
SHEQSY integrates with Bluetooth devices and handheld satellite devices to ensure that employees stay safe and connected, 24/7 – even outside of cellular coverage.
Before setting out, all employees should research the route they plan to take and check the weather forecast. Local traffic websites should advise if there are any closures, how the road conditions are, and the risks of driving on specific routes. Checking weather forecasts will help employees understand if inclement weather conditions may arise as they drive. If any of this research indicates that it is too unsafe to drive, employees should communicate with their managers and reconsider traveling until it is safe to do so.
In addition, employees should research and understand their travel plans before driving. That way, unnecessary distractions, such as checking maps and using cell phones, can be avoided.
Before driving in winter conditions, ensure that your employees’ vehicles are up to the task.
It is a good idea for vehicles to get a general tune-up service to ensure that all mechanisms are running smoothly. Any issues should be rectified immediately. Checking that the brake lights are working properly is a must. Installing winter windshield wiper blades and using wiper fluid with antifreeze are also wise ideas.
Before driving, employees should also make sure that their gas tank is full – or that they have more than enough gasoline to make it to the next service station to refill.
Employees should also ensure that their exhaust pipe is not clogged or blocked by snow, mud, or anything else; not doing so could lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is important to equip your employees’ vehicles with the right tires for the job. For example, if employees drive often in ice and snow, snow tires should be installed. Tires should be checked often to ensure they have enough tread and correct tire pressure. These actions can greatly reduce the risk of accidents in snow and ice and bad weather.
According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), motorists should practice cold weather driving by:
Conducting winter driving safety training sessions for employees can help ensure they stay safe and prepared in hazardous winter driving conditions.
Driving defensively can reduce your employees’ risk of getting into a crash. Staying engaged and alert, being prepared for unexpected obstacles, and controlling all possible elements of each situation are the three pillars of driving defensively.
Specifically, employees should employ techniques such as:
Remember that posted speed limits and other safety advisories are there to keep everyone on the road safe. Obeying the speed limits, traffic laws, and signs, and avoiding distractions (such as cell phones) are other ways to drive defensively and responsibly.
Employees should be encouraged to take breaks whenever it is necessary to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
Feeling fatigued? Pull over and take a 15-minute break.
Experiencing poor visibility due to fog, rain, sleet, or snow? Wait for visibility to improve.
Sliding on icy conditions in the early morning? Wait for the sun to thaw the ice.
Driving fast in dangerous, wintry conditions can cause accidents. Your employees should understand that rushing and speeding are unacceptable behaviors – and that driving slowly, when necessary to maintain the safety of themselves and others, is expected. If delays are expected, employees should plan to leave sooner to avoid feeling the need to rush.
Employees should drive slowly to account for lower traction when driving on snow, ice, or black ice, and when visibility is poor. Maintaining at least an 8-10 second following distance behind the vehicles in front of them will ensure that employees have enough time to slow down when necessary. Employees should always drive at or below the posted speed limits in dangerous conditions, and remember to accelerate slowly and decelerate slowly. They should also slow down when approaching intersections, bridges, on- and off-ramps, and shady spots, and only pass other vehicles and snow plows when it is safe to do so.
In winter conditions, like ice or snow, using a vehicle’s cruise control function is not the safest option.
Since cruise control does not adjust to (i.e. slow down or navigate around) winter elements on the roads, or react to unexpected obstacles such as other drivers and wildlife, it is best to stay as aware and engaged in driving as possible. Your employees’ main objective should always be to have as much control over their vehicles as possible.
Discover how easy it is to keep your lone workers safe! Watch this 90-second video to see SHEQSY in action:
Move from reactive to proactive lone worker safety with SHEQSY.
SHEQSY is the leading lone worker solution that protects employees in real-time while enhancing productivity, reducing liability, and streamlining lone worker management.
From the SHEQSY app, employees can share their real-time locations and activity countdown timers with managers; send duress notifications to emergency contacts and receive immediate emergency assistance; check-in periodically to confirm their wellbeing; share hazard and incident reports; send location notes; complete safety audits and checklists; and more. Integrated Bluetooth and satellite devices are also available for employees working in high-risk situations and rural locations.
Meanwhile, from the SHEQSY Dashboard, managers can view employees’ working locations, manage overtime and panic alerts, send out emergency roll calls, run reports, schedule activities (via integration with your favorite calendar app), and more.
Maddy is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. She has worked as a digital marketer and copywriter in the risk management industry for more than a decade. When she’s not writing for SafetyCulture, Maddy runs a popular travel and food blog and enjoys snowboarding, practicing yoga, hiking, and spending time exploring outdoors.
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