Helping to Keep Your Drivers Safe in Dangerous Conditions
Fall and winter driving conditions can be prime time for accidents involving skidding or losing control. Ice and snow are common hazards that often come to mind. Fallen leaves, wet roadways and sand and gravel used to treat icy and snowy conditions can also increase the risks of tires losing their grip on the road’s surface. Skidding can lead to a loss-of-control accident, especially when paired with speeding or driving too fast for road conditions.
Whether you have employees driving occasionally for an off-site business meeting or an entire fleet of drivers transporting goods, help keep them and others safe by sharing these precautions to help avoid losing control at the wheel.
Allow Extra Stopping Time
An analysis of speed-related crashes by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 45% of fatality crashes and 74% of injury crashes were related to driving too fast for road conditions.1
In ideal driving conditions, the National Safety Council recommends a three-second following distance. Drivers need to allow for more stopping time during adverse weather or driving conditions, such as:
- When visibility is reduced by rain, snow, fog or smoke.
- After it starts raining, when oil residue buildup on the road surface can create slippery conditions.
- After a rainstorm, when puddles can increase the risk of hydroplaning.
When wet, snowy or icy roads make it harder to stop.
Be Alert for Changing Road Conditions
Even if the weather is clear, fall and winter can present obstacles on the road that can lead to unsafe conditions. Drivers should be on the lookout and use extra caution when they spot:
- Fallen leaves.
- Sand and gravel buildup.
High-risk areas where ice forms, such as bridges, under overpasses, intersections and shaded areas.
Properly Maintain Vehicles
Technology and proper vehicle maintenance can also help protect against loss-of-control accidents. Tires lose their ability to grip the roads as treads wear down. All tires should be properly inflated and have ample tread. Brake systems should be properly maintained and kept free from defects, including worn linings, air or dirt in the brake fluid and leaks, which may reduce the available braking force.2
Take Advantage of Technology
Advances in vehicle technology are designed to help vehicles perform more safely on the road, but they are not perfect. Drivers should not over-rely on technology in adverse weather conditions. Driving at a safe speed for road conditions and, in some cases, staying off the roads until the weather improves, are still the best ways to avoid a crash.
Help your drivers understand the advantages and limitations of the safety technologies available on their vehicles:
- Antilock Braking System (ABS) brakes can help drivers maintain directional control by automatically changing the brake fluid pressure at each wheel to maintain optimum braking performance, just short of the wheels locking up. It may not help them stop their vehicles more quickly.
- Available in newer vehicles, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) involves speed sensors on each wheel and the ability to brake individual wheels. When the ESC system detects that the vehicle is about to travel in a different direction than the one indicated by the steering wheel, it automatically brakes the appropriate wheel.
Encouraging your drivers to be alert for conditions that may make skidding or losing control more likely is one way to help protect your employees, your fleet and others. Learn more about choosing the safest drivers for your company.
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