Winter's finally upon us, with the temperatures plummeting and the long evenings having well and truly drawn in. Although the weather so far this winter has been relatively benign - with no serious snow and ice wreaking havoc on the roads - it is important to be prepared. After all, demand for deliveries is higher at this time of year with the Christmas rush and subsequent January sales, and the roads are clogged up with festive traffic even when the weather is fine.
Fortunately, fleet operators have telematics technology at their disposal, which can greatly assist them in their efforts to keep fleets working efficiently all winter long. So what steps should fleet managers be taking to avoid the very worst of the winter disruption?
Keep things moving with telematics
Telematics technology provides fleet managers and drivers with ongoing weather updates - so there's no excuse for being unaware of changes in conditions, even unexpected ones. Route mapping and planning systems are on hand to help you keep your fleet moving throughout the winter. Vehicles heading towards snow-affected areas, for example, can be provided with up-to-the-minute forecast information as well as being advised on road closures and what alternative routes might be available.
Because telematics keeps fleet managers up to speed, it's possible to make last-minute changes of plan which help to avoid the worst weather-related disruption. This might involve taking a more indirect route that runs more miles up on the clock, but it can save valuable time.
Keep tabs on vehicle maintenance
As winter weather conditions can be particularly challenging, it's all the more important to keep a very watchful eye on vehicle maintenance at this time of year. Snow, frost and ice all put extra strain on vehicles, so it's easy for problems to develop. Breakdowns at this time of year are especially unhelpful, as resources are already likely to be stretched given the increased demand for deliveries.
Telematics can keep fleet operators informed about the condition of individual vehicles, allowing managers to spot mechanical issues earlier and resolve them quicker. It can provide real-time updates on a wide range of mechanical factors, ranging from fuel levels to battery health. It can also inform fleet managers via email or mobile notification when a vehicle has been stationary for a long time, which could be an indication of a breakdown. Teletrac Navman's Director enables fleet managers to schedule in regular maintenance checks, MOTs and so on.
The importance of safe driving
Because roads can be treacherous in winter, it's essential that fleet operators remind their drivers just how important it is to drive to road conditions. Telematics gathers a wide range of data to provide fleet managers with in-depth insight into how their drivers conduct themselves when they're behind the wheel. If drivers repeatedly breach the speed limit, brake sharply or take corners dangerously, their fleet manager can find out about it through telematics and address any issues.
In addition, fleet managers can use geofencing to set speed limits through particular areas - so if drivers are set to travel along a route that's likely to be particularly risky during the winter months, their manager can impose a speed limit for that particular stretch. Again, they will be notified via email or mobile when that speed limit is breached. This can all help to promote an internal culture of safer driving, and greater awareness of the dangers drivers face on the road during the winter months.