Holidays and the ensuing winter months are tough times for courier and delivery services. Increased parcel volumes on account of the holiday season shopping binges or heightened purchases from businesses before the advent of the tax season provide significant challenges for these companies, who often have to bear extreme weather conditions, such as snow and hail, on their routes.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites winter as one of the most difficult seasons for driving in the country, during which vehicular accidents are rampant, owing to slippery road conditions, poor visibility and increased unpredictability of other drivers during the holiday season.
Here are some tips that smart drivers use to stay safe in such conditions.
DRIVING AT LOW SPEEDS
Better late than never is a proverb especially applicable to the winter season. We know that you have to meet delivery deadlines, but icy roads can sometimes overwhelm even the most robust anti-skid controls. Stay within the recommended speed limits, so that you have adequate “stop-time” in case of sudden halts. This is especially important for heavy-load vehicles.
KNOW YOUR VEHICLE INSIDE OUT
Before venturing onto snow-bound roads and extreme weather conditions, check features like forward sensors, headlights, vehicle batteries, back-up camera and tail lights to see if they are functioning optimally. Check other features like electronic stability control and antilock brakes and familiarize yourself with their applications beforehand, according to instructions given by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for winter driving.
KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE FROM VEHICLES IN FRONT
When visibility is low or it is snowing heavily, following the tail lights of vehicles ahead of you is not advisable. Aim to keep a safe driving distance from the vehicles ahead. Since fleet vehicles tend to be larger and carry heavy cargo, their drivers need more space and time to bring their vehicle to a complete stop, according to an article on Wex.
STOCK YOUR VEHICLES WITH ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES
Accidents and breakdowns do occur, and it is a good idea to stay prepared. The battery could run out or drivers could get stranded due to heavy snowfall. Keep contact numbers of towing services and other emergency respondents handy. Carry things like a snow-shovel, broom and ice-scrapers to handle common tasks. Jumper cables, flashlights, hot water bottles, extra blankets, first-aid kits, phone chargers, flares and emergency markers are some other useful tools to keep in the truck.
Drivers should plan their routes using GPS systems to get an idea of the weather and traffic conditions, while courier and delivery companies can use dispatch software to monitor vehicles and send help as quickly as possible during emergencies.