Right at the last knockings of winter, Britain has suddenly and unexpectedly found itself in the grip of the first proper big freeze of the winter. The so-called ‘Beast from the East’ has brought snow and biting cold winds from Siberia, and to complicate matters further, this weather front is now set to collide with Storm Emma from the south-east – likely to result in severely disruptive snowfall in south Wales and south-west England, with accumulations of up to 50cm in some places.
The severe weather has already caused serious disruption on roads across Britain. Drivers on the M80 between Glasgow and Stirling, for instance, found themselves stranded overnight, with around 1,000 vehicles caught up in an eight-mile tailback. The potential impact on fleets, then, is enormous – so it’s vital to take action now. Here’s what fleets need to be doing in order to deal with the big freeze:
- Reinforce safe driving practices with drivers. Run through the most fundamental road safety practices with your driving workforce so that they’re fully aware of how important they are. This isn’t as patronising as it might sound; it’s easy to get complacent on the roads, and this is the cause of many accidents. Road safety is vital all the time, but never more so than in periods of severe weather as the roads will be treacherous.
- Go through vehicle safety checklists. A thorough vehicle safety checklist is essential during periods of snowy and icy conditions. Make sure that your vehicles are equipped to withstand the dangerous weather. Vehicles which are not fully equipped to do so should not be sent out in it.
- Ensure that pre-trip inspections are taking place. In particular, it’s essential that brakes are sufficiently responsive and tyre tread depth is adequate for icy roads because grip can be drastically reduced. It is therefore vital that vehicles are being inspected properly prior to trips. You must make sure that these checks are carried out.
- Manage your workload appropriately. Clearly, this period of disruptive weather is likely to mean additional pressure on your overall workload. You should expect delays, some of them severe, and plan your workload accordingly. Telematics systems can help you with this, as well as allowing you to re-route deliveries where necessary (and where possible).
- Use fleet management software to manage vehicle checks and monitor driver behaviour. Fleet management software allows you to schedule vehicle checks as and when you need them, and also provides finely-detailed data on how drivers conduct themselves behind the wheel. Use your fleet management system to monitor how drivers behave on the road during the bad weather. This will allow you to highlight and address any risky conduct highlighted by the system.
In addition to all this, it is essential that you keep up to speed with travel updates and weather warnings. The Met Office has issued weather warnings affecting most of the UK, so make sure you monitor these; they will be updated continually as this spell of severe weather continues. Disruption to the UK transport network is expected to continue into the coming weekend.