Getting vehicles and workers ready for winter driving

Workplace safety tips don’t just help inside – they often can be just as vital on the open road. This is especially true during wintertime. Employers may want to consider how they can help keep employees safe while balancing worker productivity.

With the weather taking a turn toward the colder months of the year, now might be the ideal time to get vehicles and their drivers ready for winter driving.

“Vehicles and related parts can be susceptible to freezing temperatures, just as they are susceptible to very hot, dry temperatures,” Kristin Brocoff, spokesperson for Corporation, told U.S. News & World Report. “Anything extreme – even day-to-day driving in stop-and-go traffic – can cause parts to wear more quickly than they may otherwise. In the case of snow, it’s often the road salt that causes car problems that can range from rusting to clogs and buildup.”

Preparing vehicles
The harsh weather conditions that arrive with winter can be extra damaging to cars and trucks. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recommends paying close attention to the battery, ignition, exhaust systems, thermostat, defroster, heater and brakes during this time of year. ADOT also outlines the benefits of:

  • Using snow tires, chains or studded tires on snowy or icy roads. According to ADOT, studded tires are allowed on Arizona highways beginning October 1 and ending May 1.
  • Determining whether the antifreeze in your vehicle’s radiator can withstand freezing temperatures.
  • Replacing old windshield wipers and blades, as well as the solvent used for self-cleaning windshields.
  • Making sure all lights – headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals – are working properly, as visibility can become an issue during winter.
  • Changing standard motor oil to a winter grade that is designed to operate in colder temperatures.

Driving safely
With roads becoming more hazardous during winter, businesses might want to educate their employees on ways to be safer behind the wheel. This can be a valuable tool for both employees driving to and from work, as well as those who must hit the highways as part of their jobs.

As ADOT points out, driving on wet or slippery roads can be made safer with slower speeds. Employers may want to let employees know that making it to a destination safely is more important than being a few minutes late. Also, since winter roads may require quick changes based on road conditions, it’s advised that drivers do not use cruise control.

In addition to slower acceleration, ADOT also recommends that drivers brake more slowly during winter. A sudden push on the brakes can lead to skidding. If a skid does occur, ADOT advises drivers to stay calm, ease off the accelerator, brake lightly and steer into the skid instead of away from it. Icy roads can make it more difficult to stop quickly, so drivers are encouraged to leave extra space between themselves on vehicles in front of them. This can be especially important for drivers of larger vehicles, as these may take longer to stop.

Creating a winter driving kit
Sometimes you may require tools in order to make winter driving safer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends drivers have on hand:

  • Flashlights
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Abrasive materials for wheel traction, such as sand or kitty litter
  • Shovel
  • Snow brush
  • Ice scraper
  • Warning devices in case you must stop, such as flares
  • Blankets

Food, water, snacks, necessary medication and cellular phones are also recommended for longer road trips.

By encouraging employees to keep their vehicles in good shape, drive safely and prepare for any winter road emergencies, employers may be able to reduce the chances of worker accidents and injuries.

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