Skip to content

The Importance of Having a Winter Vehicle Safety Checklist for CMV Drivers

Road conditions couldn’t be more different between seasons. If your company uses the same pre-trip inspection checklist year-round, you’re doing yourself a disservice! Preparing for cold, wet winter months takes extra care and consideration – especially when taking holiday chaos into account. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a significant number of crashes – nearly one in five – occur during the winter months. To make matters worse, nearly a quarter of all weather-related crashes are the direct result of snowy, slushy or icy roads. By creating a pre-trip checklist that’s specifically tailored to winter driving hazards, you can rest easy knowing safety best practices are top of mind. What, though, should you include in a comprehensive plan? Let’s explore some key considerations and actionable CMV winter driving tips.  

CMV Winter Driving Tips for a Prepared Fleet

The safety manager mantra “safety is no accident” is especially true during colder months. Preparing for winter weather requires more than just telling drivers to carry chains and a shovel.  

Prioritize Advanced Planning

Rushing is a primary cause of most crashes, and winter is primetime for weather-related delays. Drivers who feel they are falling behind are more likely to rush and increase their likelihood of an expensive, avoidable incident. Though it may seem tedious, it’s important for drivers to build time into their schedules for window defrosting, snow clearing and tire chain installation.  

Pay Extra Attention to Detail

The little stuff really does matter. No matter how long they’ll be on the road, it’s critical that drivers:  

  • Increase following distance when visibility turns bad 
  • Ensure fuel levels never drop below ¼ tank 
  • Step down (not out) when exiting the vehicle 

Lean on Your Team

Successful and safe trips are the responsibility of the entire organization – not just your fleet drivers. Dispatchers and maintenance team members can make a tremendous difference when they:  

1. Communicate Weather Updates and Road Conditions 

It’s critical that dispatchers are especially diligent in winter, providing ongoing updates about dangerous weather, road closures and other hazards. Using real-time weather tracking systems and information from local authorities are simple yet effective ways to gather up-to-date information.  

2. Monitor Fluid Levels and Tire Tread  

Does each vehicle have adequate traction to navigate less-than-favorable surface road conditions? Similarly, if they’re caught in a snowstorm, do they have enough wiper fluid to maintain full visibility? Keeping a close eye on these components is a quick way to ensure both the safety of the driver and everyone else on the road with them.  

3. Supply Winter Emergency Kits 

Even the best-laid plans can hit a snag, and when safety is on the line, you need to be ready for the worst-case scenario. Equip each vehicle with a winter safety kit that includes non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, an emergency blanket and so on.  

Cover All of Your Bases With a Comprehensive Winter Driving Safety Checklist

Verbal reminders will only go so far. Ultimately, a detailed pre-trip checklist is the best way to make sure your drivers have the information they need at their fingertips. A comprehensive pre-trip winter driving checklist should include:

Daily Inspection Tasks

Between fuel, lights, tires and more, there are plenty of components that demand close attention. No driver should hit the road until these systems have been looked after. 

Additional Considerations for Other Vehicle Types

Not all vehicles have the same needs. If your fleet includes medium-duty trucks, for instance, your pre-trip preparation process should factor in things like the battery, fuel additives and brakes with air dryers. Ideally, all of your vehicle types should be included in your winter driving safety strategy. 

Ready to prepare your drivers for the upcoming season? Click the link below to download our free Winter Driving Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist and access our hub of winter driving safety resources.

You may also like:

Subscribe to our blog

Never miss a post! Share your email with us to have the latest posts sent to your inbox.