In the United States, winter weather can vary drastically from state to state. In some states, such as Minnesota, heavy snowfall and below-freezing temperatures are common during the winter months. In other states, such as Florida, a light dusting of snow is a rare event.
Regardless of where your local government is located, it's important to be prepared for the possibility of severe winter weather. One way to do this is by ensuring that your municipality’s fleet of snow removal vehicles is properly equipped and ready to go when bad weather strikes.
This article will discuss how local governments can prepare for the coming winter by managing their fleets effectively. We'll also provide tips on handling severe weather conditions safely and efficiently.
Reviewing Winter Weather Road Maintenance Response: Successes and Failures
Local governments must prepare for inclement weather. By reviewing the successes and failures of other municipalities in their response to winter weather, local governments can improve their preparations.
Some best practices for preparing for winter weather include:
- Monitoring weather forecasts and making plans accordingly;
- Ensuring that necessary personnel is on call or on duty during winter storms;
- Preparing and stockpiling supplies, such as salt, sand, and snow plows and;
- Coordinating with state and federal agencies to ensure a coordinated response to winter storms.
However, even the best-prepared local governments can experience failures during severe winter weather events.
Some common failures include:
- Lack of coordination between various departments within the municipality;
- Inadequate supplies or equipment to deal with severe weather conditions, and;
- Failure to communicate with the public about what services are available and how to access them.
Harness the Power of Data for Planning with GPS Fleet Management
Municipal governments have a lot of planning to do in order to get ready for winter weather. GPS Fleet Tracking can help minimize costs and make snow removal more efficient. By tracking the location of all trucks and equipment, Rastrac can help managers optimize routes and staffing for winter weather.
Keeping track of data during the winter months can equip fleet managers with valuable insights to easily pivot and meet any winter weather challenges, be it rain, snow, or changing traffic patterns. Fleet management telematics data can help fleet managers monitor overall fleet health, dispatch equipment efficiently, monitor material use, strengthen compliance and accountability, and help resolve disputes.
Managing Local Government Logistical Operations
Planning for the winter months means considering logistical operations, which include communication, public transportation, and equipment management.
Fleet Management Software Improves Communication
Even the best reputations can be damaged by a single incident, and the impact of extreme weather on local communities can shape views about local municipalities and their partners.
Fleet management software can help to improve asset management communication at an exponential rate.
During spells of extreme weather, residents turn to trusted sources such as municipal governments for information on a wide range of issues which can include:
- Where to go to for help (and more detailed and specific advice);
- What support is available to them;
- Local contact details (out-of-hours contact details are particularly important);
- Personal safety;
- Health advice;
- Advice on securing their property;
- School closures;
- The ‘clean-up’ process.
Prepare for Increased Public Transportation Demand
When inclement weather hits, municipalities need to prepare for an increase in demand for public transport. When people have trouble getting their cars on the road, they turn to public transportation, so municipalities should plan ahead for increased ridership during the winter months. In the same vein, many people who would normally walk or cycle to work are unable to do so and depend on public transport to get around when there is inclement weather.
Implement Safe Work Practices
In the winter months, municipalities should empower fleet managers to incorporate practices that protect workers from injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, including:
- Providing workers with the proper tools and equipment to do their jobs;
- Developing work plans that identify potential hazards and the safety measures that will be used to protect workers;
- Scheduling maintenance and repair jobs for warmer months;
- Scheduling jobs that expose workers to the cold weather in the warmer part of the day;
- Avoiding exposure to extremely cold temperatures when possible;
- Limiting the amount of time spent outdoors on extremely cold days;
- Using relief workers to assign extra workers for long, demanding jobs;
- Providing warm areas for use during break periods;
- Providing warm liquids (no alcohol) to workers;
- Monitoring workers who are at risk of cold stress;
- Monitoring the weather conditions during a winter storm, having a reliable means of communicating with workers, and being able to stop work or evacuate when necessary;
- Acclimatizing new workers and those returning after time away from work by gradually increasing their workload, and allowing more frequent breaks in warm areas, as they build up a tolerance for working in the cold environment;
- Having a means of communicating with workers, especially in remote areas;
- Knowing how the community warns the public about severe weather: outdoor sirens, radio, and television.
Severe weather can happen anytime in any part of the country. Understanding your risks and equipping your transportation department or road maintenance teams with GPS fleet management tools for up-to-date information regarding how you mobilize fleets to handle winter weather will go a long way to maximizing your relationships with residents and businesses.
Communicating effectively when it comes to winter weather mitigation goes a long way for all stakeholders, and having a plan that leverages telematics technology. GPS fleet tracking software will undoubtedly help you handle the season.