Unpredictable weather conditions, like a sudden snowstorm or an increase in wind speed, can cause major setbacks for fleets in the form of road delays and unsafe driving conditions. And since weather patterns can change as quickly as every five miles, it can seem like there's a near-infinite amount of weather events a driver could experience during a long-distance route. If you're a fleet manager, varying weather conditions like these can make route planning an especially challenging feat.
But what can you do beyond getting the latest news from meteorologists at the National Weather Service or entrusting a weather app?
Luckily, there are certain telematics tools that can help you safely and efficiently guide your fleet through severe weather. Read on to learn how a telematics solution that includes a weather route planner can help keep your drivers safe, your trucks on time, and your customers happy.
What is a weather route planner?
A weather route planner is a tool that provides real-time weather information alongside your driving routes so you can take a proactive approach to route planning. This tool can provide a simple side-by-side comparison with a web mapping service, like Google maps, so you can quickly understand weather conditions in specific areas at a glance.
How can a weather route planner help your fleet?
A telematics solution that includes a weather route planner can add an extra layer of visibility in the case of inclement weather. Specifically, this tool can help your fleet:
Keep drivers safe: When severe weather strikes, driving conditions can become increasingly dangerous—visibility can decrease and roads can become slick. To help keep drivers safe, leverage real-time fleet visibility tools that include a weather route planner so you can navigate drivers away from poor conditions or unforeseen roadblocks caused by inclement weather.
Avoid unnecessary delays: A driver might already be on a route when there's a sudden change in weather conditions. But with a weather route planner, you can get real-time weather information so you can update your driver’s route accordingly. For example, you could redirect a driver around an approaching snow storm or toward a rest. Though these different routes might take longer than the originally planned route, they can ultimately save your vehicles from getting stuck in weather conditions that could otherwise cost major delays across your entire operations.
Communicate ETAs with customers: Weather route planners can be a great way to keep customers aware of changing schedules based on inclement weather in real time. If a vehicle is delayed because of new or worsening weather conditions, you can easily provide customers with an update based on real-time weather information in your weather route planner. Some telematics providers, like Samsara, also enable customers to track real-time vehicle locations and up-to-the-minute ETAs from a shared URL for enhanced customer service.
Plan effective routes with Samsara Weather Overlay
Samsara Weather Overlay is a live map that's layered directly over your vehicle's route so you have visibility into the current weather radar in your fleet’s area. This gives you access to weather forecasts and other critical information so you can make the best and safest decisions for your fleet.
With this additional weather data, you can:
Stay up to date on changing weather conditions for any of your routes, and be aware of severe weather alerts before they become an issue for drivers.
Keep drivers safe by navigating them out of potentially dangerous areas.
Run your fleet efficiently by avoiding unforeseen road-blocks due to severe weather conditions.
Three ways to keep your fleet safe in severe weather
To help keep your fleet safe in changing weather conditions, here are some additional precautions you and your drivers can take:
1. Make sure your fleet is storm ready
The worst time for a driver to discover their brake pads are worn or their tire pressure is low is when they’re navigating through wet leaves or icy roads. Keep your fleet safe and prepared by having a comprehensive and effective maintenance plan in place before bad weather strikes. Consider upping maintenance check-ins for trucks operating across difficult routes, and make sure all drivers are fully trained to identify and communicate maintenance problems. For more maintenance tips, check out our keys for successful fleet maintenance.
2. Encourage your drivers to make a rest stop plan
Encourage your drivers to plan breaks along their routes and map out rest stops ahead of time. Rest stop apps like “USA Rest Stop Locator” or “Rest Stops Near Me” can help your driver identify safe places to pull over, making it easier for them to rest, improve reaction time, and reduce HOS violations.
3. Pack an emergency kit
It’s important for drivers to always have an emergency kit at the ready in their vehicles. This kit should include:
At least one gallon of water
2 days worth of non-perishable food
First-aid supplies such as bandaids, disinfectant spray, and gauze
An extra pair of warm clothes
A cell phone charger
Flashlight, knife or multi-purpose tool
Keep your fleet safe with Samsara
To help keep your fleet safe through varying weather conditions, consider a fleet management solution like Samsara that not only provides weather overlay in their telematics offering, but also includes AI dash cams for additional insights into safety.
Through the use of cameras powered by artificial intelligence, Samsara helps businesses of all kinds gain newfound visibility into the safety of their operations. Fleet customers can use Samsara AI dash cams to automatically detect critical safety events—like harsh braking and distracted driving—and make incident footage readily accessible from anywhere. Plus, built-in tools and reports, like the Safety Inbox, driver coaching tools, and safety score gamification, enable day-to-day workflows that encourage consistent safety habits across your organization.
If you’re looking for increased visibility into your fleet and a more effective way to make sure drivers are safely operating vehicles—both in severe and optimal weather conditions—the Samsara platform can help you make this important task a completely manageable one.
To learn more about how Samsara can help your fleet stay safe day-to-day and in instances of inclement weather, reach out for a free trial today.