Commercial vehicles on the road: safety first!
Commercial vehicles are always operating, no matter what the weather. As a business owner, whether you have one truck to manage or a whole fleet of vehicles and drivers, the basic precautions to take are similar. Here are a few tips to help prevent accidents and deal with the unexpected.
What to check before hitting the road?
In any season, before driving a commercial vehicle, it’s important to check its overall condition, including:
- Tire pressure
- If headlights and signal lights are working properly
- Windshield washer levels
- Fuel levels
- If vehicle documents are up to date
- That there are no warning lights on the dashboard
In winter, there are extra steps to take. Drivers must make sure they:
- Clear the vehicle completely of snow before they use it
- Have a snow broom and scraper, snow shovel, jumper cables, traction aids and a first aid kit
- Keep a few basic tools in the vehicle and a full container of windshield washer fluid to refill the tank if necessary
- Have a cell phone in case of emergency.
What documents should be kept in the vehicle?
It’s important to keep the required documents in the vehicle at all times, including the registration certificate and insurance certificate. A copy of any accident reports might also be useful. You should make sure the driver's license of every person authorized to drive the commercial vehicle is valid. It might also be a good idea to get the driving records of all drivers, with their prior consent, if required.
Check with the appropriate authorities for more details.
What should a road safety kit contain?
As a precautionary measure, you may want to consider putting together a road safety kit for your commercial vehicle that includes the following items: snow removal equipment, a bag of sand to increase the vehicle's weight and grip on the ground, a flare, bottled water and some dry food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a warm blanket, winter clothing (hat, mittens, scarf, etc.) and a first aid kit.*
Create a prevention plan
If you manage multiple drivers for your commercial vehicles, it might be a good idea to develop a prevention plan to remind employees of the rules and steps to follow when using a vehicle. Here are a few things to include:
- Checking that the vehicle is in good working order before using it (with a detailed list of items to be checked)
- Driving safely and appropriately for road and weather conditions (511 mobile app)
- Planning trips and following up regularly with the employer
- Communicating with clients to notify them of any potential delays and managing expectations
- Maintaining a usage log (driver identification, day, destination, vehicle condition)
- Reporting any road incidents involving the commercial vehicle and/or affecting the driver's driving record
- Zero tolerance for drug and alcohol use on the job
- Commitment by each driver to safely operate the vehicle
Rewarding good driving
Depending on the situation, you could implement rewards or bonuses for good driving to go along with your prevention plan. This is an effective way to encourage employee buy-in and recognize them for being responsible drivers.
A shared responsibility
Employers and employees all have a role to play Commercial vehicle users must first be vigilant in managing and adjusting their driving. Snow, ice, rain, freezing rain, storms—these are all common driving hazards in Quebec! Driving is a privilege that comes with significant responsibilities. Add in winter conditions, and it becomes even more important to be committed to keeping everyone safe. And let’s not forget the serious impact an accident can have on a driver's health, as well as the company's finances and productivity.
For more information on business insurance coverages, please contact Desjardins Insurance.
*Source: Government of Canada, 2018 (https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/sfttps/tp201012-en.aspx External link).
Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc., provider of automobile, property and commercial business insurance. These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.