Lee Wolstenholme's blog: 18 October - Tips for fleet drivers as winter approaches
18 October 2016
Fleet managers are under the cosh these days, their roles having become increasingly complex with issues like diesel particulate filters and emissions, strong encouragement to go ultra-low, plus additional servicing items like AdBlue to contend with and educate staff on.
The last thing fleet managers want to see are vehicles being taken off the road and booked into workshops for avoidable reasons. This is where the drivers of company vehicles can play a role, helping alleviate pressures by showing an interest in how their cars or vans are running, particularly as the winter months loom and safety is paramount.
To lengthen the life of windscreen wiper blades, all it takes is a quick wipe with a cloth each morning, which will also help reduce smearing during periods of winter sun glare. Taking a few moments to wipe the inside of a vehicle's windscreen from time to time can also help maximise visibility by reducing condensation.
Windscreen cracks can be lessened by drivers resisting the temptation to pour freshly boiled kettle water onto them when setting off in a hurry, and fleet drivers can also stay on the right side of the law by remembering that it's illegal to drive a vehicle with snow on the roof and obscuring the windscreen and other windows.
Fleet managers aren't the ones who put diesel or petrol in employees' vehicles and with cold weather typically increasing fuel consumption, ensuring that there's ample fuel in the tank is an obvious way of reducing unnecessary breakdown and recovery call-outs.
We all lead busy lives but fleet vehicle drivers can keep themselves and other road users safer in the winter months by setting off earlier than usual to lessen the temptation to speed at a time when surfaces can be icy and stopping distances greater.
Of course, fleet managers can educate staff on safe driving in adverse weather such as hailstorms, high winds and fog, along with advising them on how to deal with aquaplaning and skidding, but the ultimate responsibility is on the drivers themselves.
Drivers can also take an interest in the pressure and condition of their vehicles' tyres, light bulbs and even bodywork, avoid potholes and poor surfaces where possible and try to drive up kerbs smoothly to keep the wheels' balancing and alignment in good order, which helps boost fuel economy.
Even parking responsibly can help minimise the likelihood of damage from other passing vehicles, and also crime. Little things like these can go a long way in making the lives of fleet managers easier, not just in the winter but at all times of the year.
Lee Wolstenholme is a director of Vehicle Consulting