Winter Tips for Commercial Trucks and Drivers

Fleet Management|Blogs
commercial trucks on icy road

As the temperatures around the country drop, having the wrong fuel in your trucks can put your fleet and drivers at risk. But being prepared for harsh Winter temperatures doesn’t just begin with the fuel you put in your tanks. Proper maintenance of vehicle fuel tanks is an essential part of achieving a trouble-free, lower-cost winter operation.

Most diesel fuel in the U.S. is Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) and, while ULSD’s lower sulfur content improves our air quality, it also presents some special challenges that need to be addressed when winterizing your fuel to avoid fuel-related problems.

Here are some preventative maintenance measures to improve the operation of diesel powered vehicles in winter conditions:

  • Fuel Additives: When temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, add a diesel fuel anti-gel additive to your fuel tanks.
  • Winter Blend: Ensure you have quality winter blended fuel in your tank.
  • Fuel Tank: Keep your fuel tank half full. Condensation can build up in a near-empty gas tank in extremely cold temperatures, which can cause fuel line freeze-up and no-start conditions.
  • Planning Ahead: Think in terms of where the coldest point the vehicle will travel to and treat fuel/plan accordingly.

At Ryder, through our preventive maintenance solution and the fuel we offer customers, your fleet and drivers will be safe when temperatures drop.

Ryder’s preventative maintenance procedures require all vehicle fuel tank sumps be drained or swept to remove water, as well as other pre-winter maintenance required by Standard Repair Practices.

Ryder fueling locations have also begun preparing their sites to keep your trucks moving all winter long. The proper use of additives, along with good housekeeping of our diesel storage tanks and vehicle saddle tanks allows for a trouble-free, lower-cost winter operation for all customers.

Ryder fueling locations offer a winter blend fuel that contains anti-gel/deicer additives. The fuel, along with preventive maintenance prevents breakdowns and downtime caused by fuel line and filter freeze.

Beat Winter Driver Fatigue With These 10 Tips

Driver fatigue is a serious safety issue, particularly in the winter. Driver fatigue isn’t just about falling asleep – it’s about tiredness, weariness, or exhaustion. Fatigue slows reflexes and affects a driver’s ability to concentrate and respond to conditions – increasing the chances of a crash that could have a significant impact on your company’s costs and productivity.

Here are 10 tips to beat fatigue this winter:

1. Create a culture of open and honest communication about driver fatigue – employees need to feel comfortable reporting their inability to drive due to fatigue and have no fear of reprisals.

2. Plan ahead and consider the driver’s commute time when complying with state or federal specific hours of service (HOS regulations).

3. Teach drivers that it’s not better to “push through” and that it’s better to find somewhere to stop and rest. Just 15 minutes of rest can give the brain up to two hours of alertness. If we don’t give our brain the rest it needs, it will shut down on its own.

4. Encourage drivers to report fatigue – regularly ask for feedback both pre and post trip.

5. Educate drivers on knowing the early signs of fatigue – such as yawning, frequent blinking and drowsiness. Remind them to make sure the cruise control function is off as they look for a safe area to stop and take a rest.

6. Avoid planning routes on two-lane roads and use highways as much as possible. It’s harder for drivers to find rest areas on two-lane roads.

7. Use lane tracking devices so an alarm will sound if the vehicle drifts into another lane without the driver using a turn signal.

8. If possible, avoid scheduling driving during the early morning/pre-dawn hours when fatigue is more prevalent.

9. Remind drivers about the need to avoid medications, including over-the-counter options, which may cause drowsiness.

10. Educate drivers to eat light, fresh foods versus sugary or carbohydrate-filled foods that can make them feel tired.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigued or drowsy driving may contribute to 100,000 crashes each year, causing 40,000 injuries, and more than 1,000 deaths. Don’t let your drivers be involved in one of those crashes.

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