In the summertime, journey durations go up and road hazards increase. More traffic means more congestion, squeezing your delivery times and increasing the time spent in traffic jams. School holidays put children on the streets, increasing the pedestrian hazard. And driver comfort and awareness become hard to plan for as changeable weather creates cab conditions that are hot one moment and freezing cold the next. Preparation is key to keeping your vehicles on the road and out of the traffic.
Prepare your fleet for changeable weather
The British summer is famous for two things: massive traffic jams and extremely changeable weather. From a safety perspective, the two don’t mix well. To prepare realistically for a summer on the road, fleets must manage driver expectations and behaviour as well as routes.
Within the cab, that means ensuring that driver comforts are attended to—for example by checking the air conditioning system is working properly. Dehydration and low comfort levels contribute to poor driving decisions and, ultimately, accidents. Check, maintain and service the air conditioning in fleet vehicles before the spells of sudden hot weather make their use necessary.
Air con has no effect on fuel efficiency at motorway speeds, and should be used in hot weather to keep drivers cool and focused.
Fluid levels are vital during the summer months. Coolant should be regularly checked and topped off, as should oil. Windscreen washer fluid is essential for dealing with the increased airborne dirt that comes from dusty fields—and the residue of spray kicked off the roads during summer thunderstorms. For the same reason, wiper blades should be checked and replaced if necessary.
Plan your routes to avoid traffic
Extreme traffic congestion is bad for drivers, bad for vehicles, and bad for business. Get the jump on the summer holiday chaos by planning routes to minimise traffic impact. GPS systems can help by delivering advance warning of changing traffic conditions, giving drivers the time they need to alter routes. And telematics systems can give you the edge by delivering real-time information to a driver support centre. With your HQ staff on hand to help find less blocked routes, drivers can often find a way through messy motorways and backed-up A roads.
Advance route planning can take some of the strain, too. Use historic data from your telematics or journey-time data derived from your fuel card usage stats. A fuelGenie account allows you to create reports from which fuel use, journey duration, and best routes can be determined. And you can use the fuelGenie PoI file on your satnav, to locate participating supermarket forecourts and keep the cost of refuelling down en route.
How are you planning to deal with summer traffic? Let us know on LinkedIn and Twitter.