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Beat the Heat with Summer Safety Tips for Fleet Professionals Brian Dziuk | May 10, 2017, 3:00:25 PM

In some of our previous posts, we’ve discussed the dangers of driving in wintertime—such as how low winter temperatures can ice up roads and cause numerous other hazards. However, winter isn’t the only time of year that drivers and fleet managers need to be careful of extreme weather conditions. Some summer weather patterns can be just as dangerous for drivers as any blizzard.

Even in clear summer weather, there's a risk of a crash.

Safety incidents on the road can cost any organization significant amounts of time, money, and resources, not to mention the damage such incidents can cause to a business’ reputation. So, to protect your drivers, vehicles, and cargo, here are a few summer safety tips for fleet professionals to use:

1: Make Sure Your Drivers Are Following HOS Restrictions

No matter the time of year or weather conditions, exhausted drivers are a danger to themselves and others on the road. Hours of Service (HOS) restrictions are designed to make sure that drivers get enough rest to be alert and effective behind the wheel.

Monitoring when drivers start and stop their vehicles allows fleet managers to keep an eye on HOS compliance. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and GPS tracking devices are easy ways to keep track of when your fleet vehicles are active.

2: Encourage Drivers to Make Pit Stops for Food and Bathroom Breaks

Sometimes, drivers really don’t want to stop for anything, even to get food or use the restroom. They’re so worried about keeping to a tight schedule that they’ll try to eat and drink while driving or go to great lengths to avoid stopping to use the bathroom.

Skipping regular food, water, and bathroom breaks is not only potentially unhealthy for drivers, this can cause a distraction for the driver at an inopportune time—potentially contributing to a crash.

Encourage drivers to make pit stops for food and bathroom breaks.

Water/soda bottles might get dropped and roll under the brake pedal, a sandwich might occupy a driver’s attention just as another vehicle cuts in front of the truck, or the strain of holding it in might detract from the driver’s focus on the road.

Frequent pit stops to take care of basic needs such as food, water, and bodily functions is key for keeping drivers alert and aware behind the wheel.

3: Let Drivers Maintain a Comfortable Cabin Temperature

For much of the U.S., things can get pretty hot in summer. Whether your drivers are traveling through the dry heat of the desert, the hot pavement of a city or the humid climes often found in the southeastern part of North America, their vehicle’s cabin is bound to get a bit uncomfortable.

Climate control systems in vehicles can counteract some of the worst of the summer heat, keeping the temperature down to comfortable levels at the cost of some fuel efficiency. While keeping the A/C off might save a bit of gas, it might be well worth it to burn a couple of extra gallons per trip to let your drivers stay cool.

Why? One reason would be to minimize the risk of drivers suffering a heat stroke (aka hyperthermia). While most contemporary research (such as the NHTSA’s Crash Stats Report) emphasizes the effects of heatstroke on children locked in hot cars, adults are still susceptible. Although the risk of a heatstroke fatality is minimal for most drivers, the high temperatures could exacerbate other conditions and cause injury or loss of focus—potentially contributing to a crash.

Also, the sweat and discomfort of being locked in a hot vehicle cab contribute to making drivers thirsty—increasing the amount of fluid they have to drink and the number of other stops they have to make.

4: Keep an Eye On Driver Behaviors

Even on perfectly dry roads with perfectly maintained wheels and brakes, a semi-truck with a fully-loaded trailer needs a sizeable stretch of road to come to a stop. Hard acceleration, speeding, and hard braking are all behaviors that can lead to an accident.

By tracking driver behaviors with a GPS tracking device, fleet professionals can monitor drivers and correct bad driving habits that increase the risk of an accident.

5: Monitor Weather Forecasts for Your Area of Operation

Summer weather isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. In some parts of the country, summer can bring severe storms. For example, hurricane season in the eastern part of the U.S. begins in June—and may continue until November.

Monitoring weather reports in your area of operation, particularly for extreme weather warnings, is key for making sure your drivers are prepared to handle rough weather.

If winds exceed a certain level of force, it may be advisable to reroute a truck to a sheltered parking area to wait out the winds so it doesn’t get overturned on the road. If rain is expected, then maybe have drivers check their tire wear and drive a bit slower than normal. If it’s going to be exceptionally hot and sunny, make sure drivers have sun screen, sun glasses, and ready access to water.

These are a few of the ways that fleet professionals can improve safety for their vehicle fleets in the summer. Find out more about how you can improve safety and efficiency for your vehicle fleet year-round by using GPS tracking solutions today!

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