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Fleet Risk Management: How to Keep Your Assets Safe During Winter Rastrac Team | Nov 4, 2022 4:28:25 PM

Keeping your fleet assets safe during the winter months can be a challenge, but there are some measures you can take to ensure your fleet will continue to run throughout the season. 

Understanding the risks associated with winter weather is a great way to implement systems that will protect your fleet. This article outlines some of the risks that can affect your fleet and how you can prepare to mitigate loss or damage ahead of time. 

Risks to Fleet Operation in the Winter Months

The winter months inevitably are associated with increased traffic accidents. Adverse road conditions in cold weather contribute to about 12% of traffic fatalities and injuries, with substantial local variability.

Additionally, research shows that January, February, and March see more accidents than the other months of the year, although fatalities per accident are lower.  

Dangerous Driving Conditions

Precipitation tends to increase in the winter months, and with drops in temperature, roads ice over, creating dangerous driving conditions when on the road and engine difficulties when vehicles are stationary. Aquaplaning on wet roads can lead to drivers losing control of their vehicles, and winter weather can affect batteries since they tend to run slower in colder temperatures.

Oil Thickening

Another risk with the arrival of cold weather is vehicles’ oil thickening, which can cause problems when starting the engines. Vehicles’ oil flows more slowly through the engine and becomes harder to pump through its block. The strain affects vehicles’ batteries, which are already weakened by the cold. They have to work harder to generate power to turn the engine. 

Rubber Cracking

Tires are also affected by cold temperatures. Tires need to be stretched because they need to remain flexible. In winter, tires can become brittle. In fact, certain tires can lose almost all their flexibility in freezing cold temperatures. It’s under these conditions that cracks can occur.

Mitigating Winter Fleet Operation Risks

Now that we know some of the fleet operation risks associated with winter weather, let’s look at some of the ways you can enable your fleet managers to handle the winter season successfully. 

Analyze Your Data

A great way to prepare your fleet for the winter months is by studying the data available from the previous year. Note any driving behaviors or maintenance failures that affected the fleet’s fuel efficiency and operations. Adopting an automated fleet management system can help track inefficient or unsafe driving behaviors. The right software can help track hard braking, speeding, idling, and dangerous cornering. 

Driver Safety

Focus on your drivers’ safety. You can’t control the weather, but you can control your drivers’ safety training and preparedness. The first thing to check is whether any vehicles in your fleet are flagged for safety recalls. You can check the DOT’s NHTSA recall lookup tool to find out whether or not there are any open recalls on any of the vehicles in your fleet.

Be sure your drivers are familiar with vehicle features and how they work. You may want to schedule some refresher training to be sure drivers understand how qualities like anti-lock brakes react in winter weather conditions.

To ensure your drivers’ safety, you’ll want to be sure each one of your vehicles is equipped with a winter weather safety kit. It should include:

  • Jumper cables
  • Ice scrapers or brushes
  • Sand
  • Flashlights
  • Shovel
  • Gloves and winter clothing
  • Blanket
  • First aid kit
  • Extra windshield washer fluid

This list could go on, but it should give you an idea of what to keep in each vehicle to ensure drivers are safe even in the worst of winter weather conditions. 

Obstacle Avoidance Alarms

An obstacle detection system uses ultrasonic sensors mounted on the front or rear bumpers. These sensors can measure the distance between a vehicle and nearby obstacles that may be difficult to see in winter weather. While we suggest these alarms make up a part of your fleet management software all year long, in the winter, they can genuinely save your fleet from unnecessary damage. 

Heavy Rain and Snow: Associated Risks

While we acknowledge that installing sensors for obstacle detection is a great way to mitigate some risks to your fleet in the winter months, it’s also important to check all the devices you have installed in your fleet management system.

As snow, ice, or salt residue gathers on fleet vehicles, many sensors that are key to operating advanced safety systems can become blocked and shut down. We suggest running routine maintenance checks approaching and throughout the winter season. 


Most commercial vehicle drivers will be familiar with driving in hazardous winter weather, but reviewing best practices with your team regarding driving in heavy rain or snow is never wasted time. Experienced drivers might need to be reminded as the winter weather season approaches. Reminding drivers of some best practices, like chaining tires, and avoiding jackknifing, is definitely a good idea. Similarly, identifying runaway truck ramps along routes and highlighting them within the fleet management system can help to mitigate winter weather risks during the season.

In the winter, fleet managers also need to consider environmental compliance mandates while maintaining operations costs. Fleet telematics systems can effectively monitor fleet health, dispatch vehicles as required, and respond to liability claims with detailed data. 


Learn more about winter fleet management effectiveness by downloading our e-book on improving snowplow operations efficiency.

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