If your drivers find themselves in icy or snowy conditions, do they know how to safely install tire chains?
Perhaps a more important question is: would your employees admit if they didn’t know how to put tire chains on safely?
Whether you manage a fleet of commercial vehicles, supervise delivery drivers or oversee a mobile sales force, all your drivers should have the knowledge — and confidence — to quickly and safely install tire chains.
The Chilly Challenges of Tire Chains
Steep mountain roads and winter weather conditions can make driving a challenge. Drivers know putting chains on can make the difference between getting stuck on the side of the road and making it to their destination, but many are reluctant to leave the warm, safe comfort of their vehicle.
Installing snow chains isn’t easy. Whether it’s a semi-truck or light-duty vehicle, the chains have to go on one wheel at a time, usually in the worst possible weather conditions. Spending an hour (potentially more) chaining up doesn’t have a lot of appeal.
Plus, putting on chains can be dangerous. Visibility is usually poor, and on a busy road there’s always the chance of a close call with a passing vehicle.
Light-duty vehicles with four-wheel drive (or all-wheel drive) may give drivers a false sense of security. All-wheel drive vehicles, even with advanced traction control, don’t brake any better on snow or ice than a normal vehicle. Four-wheel drive trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles may accelerate better in slick conditions, but four-wheel drive won’t help the vehicle stop when it needs to. The only thing that can help are tire chains, snow tires or studded tires.
Solution: Train Drivers to Be Faster than the North Wind
The best way to overcome a driver’s reluctance to use tire chains is to help them gain confidence in their skills. Put another way: the worst time and place to learn how to install tire chains is kneeling in slush on the side of the road.
Tire Chain Tips for Fleets
When the flakes start to fly, will your fleet be ready? If not, here are a few best practices:
Confirm who’s in charge of checking chain requirements. Some states require all vehicles carry chains during certain months of the year and certain jurisdictions have requirements on which tires and axles must have chains installed. Be clear about who’s responsible (drivers, dispatchers or the maintenance crew) for confirming local requirements before drivers set out on their journey.
Encourage drivers to practice putting chains on in a warm, dry space. Send out training videos with tips and best practices, or offer a training clinic. Once drivers familiarize themselves with the process and practice it a little, they’ll literally put chains on twice as fast.
Ensure drivers have what they need. Provide the right chains for each vehicle plus some helpful supplies such as:
- Nimble, water-resistant gloves
- A reflective safety vest
- Reflective road triangles or other safety markers
- Extra links, connectors, bands and assorted other parts in case something breaks
- Maybe a rubber mat to kneel on
Having the knowledge and confidence to install tire chains when conditions are at their worst will help drivers make the safe choice should they find themselves in treacherous conditions. Training drivers how to put chains on is just one of several valuable winter weather skills that can minimize expensive winter incidents and injuries. If you don’t already have a winter safety training program, download our free training plan.
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