Linxup Blog

11 Tips for Driving in Inclement Weather

By Paul Liggett Back to Home on April 17, 2017
inclement weather

From blizzards to thick fog to thunderstorms, hazardous weather happens in every season, and it can pose a serious risk to all drivers. When the weather turns nasty, the safest choice is often to stay off the road altogether, but hanging up your keys isn't always an option for fleet drivers.

Adverse weather can lead to reduced visibility and decreased steering ability and traction, as well as increase the amount of time and space it takes to come to a complete stop. Seasonal maintenance can help your business's vehicles safely navigate whatever weather conditions the season has to offer, but the most effective way to stay safe during perilous weather is to adjust your expectations and driving behavior accordingly.

Keep your drivers safe in all weather conditions with our tips:

1. Be prepared for inclement weather

Put together an emergency preparedness kit and store one in each of your business's vehicles. These basic tools and supplies can help your drivers cope with inclement weather and stay safe if they get stranded or if their vehicle breaks down.
Here are a few items you may wish to include:

  • Extra gloves
  • Rain gear
  • A blanket
  • A flashlight and/or candles
  • Non-perishable snacks and a bottle of water
  • Bag of salt or sand in case you get stuck
  • Ice scraper
  • Air compressor
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • First aid kid

2. Leave extra time to get where you're going

Assume your drivers will need to drive more cautiously and build these expectations into your schedule. Planning for a longer journey means your drivers can comfortably drive slower without worrying about falling behind. Reducing the number of stops your drivers need to make during hazardous weather, and informing your customers about possible delays, can help alleviate any scheduling concerns.

3. Slow down

Driving too fast when the roads are slippery or visibility is limited is a common cause of weather-related accidents. If your visibility is limited, slowing down by just 5-10 mph gives you more time to react to unexpected road conditions.

With a Linxup GPS tracking device, you can receive alerts in real-time whenever unsafe driving events, such as speeding, occur. Speeding alerts that are triggered during inclement weather may require your immediate attention and can indicate a need for additional driver training.

4. Leave extra space

Leaving more space between your vehicle and the one in front of you gives you more time to react to unexpected changes like harsh braking or swerves. It also gives you extra time to safely come to a stop when road conditions are compromised.

5. Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel

Maintaining a solid grip on your steering wheel will help you retain control of your vehicles in the event of high or gusting winds or, and ensures that you can react quickly and defensively if you need to swerve or pull over.

6. Always turn on your lights

Turning on your lights, even during the day, increases your visibility and also makes your vehicle easier for other drivers to see.

If it's foggy, turn on your fog lights or low beams. Fog lights are yellow and cut through the fog better than your normal white headlights. They're also closer to the ground, so they illuminate the ground better. Don't use your high beams – they'll reflect off the water vapour and actually decrease your visibility and the visibility of drivers around you.

truck-driving-highway

7. Brake and accelerate gently

Braking and accelerating requires extra care and consideration during hazardous weather. Pass these tips for braking, accelerating, and reacting to adverse conditions on to your drivers:

  • Gently pumping your brakes in slippery weather reduces the risk of locking your tires and spinning out. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), press and hold the brake as far as possible; with ABS, your wheels won't lock and you can retain control of your vehicle.
  • Try to avoid hitting the brakes during a turn. When you brake, your wheels stop turning, which can make it easier for you to lose control and spin out. If you do skid or spin out, take your foot off the brake and turn your steering in the direction of the skid.
  • If you drive through a puddle, pump the brakes gently to generate some heat and dry them out.
  • Accelerating too quickly can cause your wheels to spin. This is bad for your tires and can also cause you to hydroplane in wet conditions.

Real-time alerts for harsh braking and rapid acceleration can help you monitor your drivers during adverse weather, reduce and eliminate unsafe behaviors, and improve your fleet's overall safety.

Learn more about real-time behavior alerts.

8. Be extra cautious around bridges and other elevated structures

Bridges and elevated structures like overpasses freeze first in cooler temperatures, and may not be treated with road salt as quickly as other roads. Slowly reduce your speed and brake and accelerate gently to ensure you don't spin out.

9. Keep your eyes open for black ice

Black ice is one of the most dangerous winter driving conditions, but it's also the most difficult to spot. If you're driving at night, you can sometimes spot black ice by looking for the reflection from your headlights on the road. You may also notice ice accumulating on your windshield or side mirrors.

10. Don't be afraid to pull off the road if conditions are bad

Make sure you pull your car far enough to the side of the road to be out of the way of traffic and turn on your four-way hazard lights to ensure that you're visible. Be careful pulling over during a blizzard. If snow accumulates too much, the road may close or you may get stuck in a drift.

11. Stay in your vehicle if you get stranded or stuck

It's easy to get lost in a storm. If you get stranded or stuck, stay in your vehicle where you'll be protected from the weather. Run your engine periodically to keep things warm, ensuring that your tailpipe is not blocked.

Common Hazardous Weather Conditions

Different conditions can cause different hazards. Here are some of the most common hazardous conditions and what you should watch out for:

Rain

Rain creates a slick road surface that reduces tire traction, and can also reduce your visibility. Hydroplaning, which occurs when your tires aren't actually touching the road surface and are instead skimming across the surface of a puddle, is especially common in rainy weather. Make sure that your wipers are in good condition, and remember that roads will be slickest shortly after the rain has begun.

Fog

Fog seriously compromises your visibility. When it's foggy, many drivers also speed up without realizing because they can't see their surroundings and lose visual cues to their speed. Check your speedometer regularly, and follow the lines on the road rather than the lights of the car in front of you.

Wind

High winds reduce your steering ability, and can be especially troublesome for high-sided vehicles or vehicles towing a trailer or carrying equipment. If you're driving in strong winds, make sure any equipment you're carrying is securely tied down.

Snow

When it's snowy, you're more likely skid, spin out, or get stuck. You should also prepare for reduced visibility and leave considerably more time and space to stop.

Ice

Black ice is nearly invisible to the human eye. If the road appears wet but the vehicle in front of you isn't kicking up any water spray, you may be driving over black ice. Reduce your speed and allow extra time to stop.

Stay Safe

Inclement weather happens in every season. Whether it's foggy, windy, rainy, or snowy, you should always adjust your driving behavior accordingly to ensure that you and other motorists on the road can travel safely.

Learn more about how Linxup GPS tracking devices can improve driver safety.