How can your drivers safely navigate bad weather?
When you’re a fleet driver you’re often driving the same route to the point where you know it really well. How long it takes to get from one job to the next, convenient shortcuts to beat the traffic, even the best coffee stops along the way.
Drivers who frequently run the same route may feel GPS navigation or route optimization is pointless, however they may be overlooking something they have no control over — the weather.
Bad weather disrupts everyone!
Whether it’s a hurricane in the summer or a blizzard in the winter, when bad weather arrives it affects everyone. Traffic congestion often increases noticeably, people drive slower, and roads are often closed.
The routes your fleet drivers usually take may be blocked by surface flooding or snowdrifts, or a landslide may have taken out a bridge.
No matter how well someone knows a route, if the weather changes and road conditions are affected, drivers often find themselves in unfamiliar territory. That can increase the time it takes to reach a customer site, negatively impacting service delivery.
Bad, extreme or destructive weather can create havoc for drivers and delays for customers:
- Road closures, forcing drivers to take alternative routes
- Increased traffic congestion due to slower-moving traffic and more vehicles on the road
- Delays caused by maintenance workers clearing debris or re-routing traffic if lanes are blocked
- Lower driving speeds in high winds if carrying a tall load
- Increased loading or unloading time in poor weather
- Greater chance of breakdowns that may be caused by extreme temperatures
How can both fleet managers and drivers minimize the affect that bad weather has on your customer service?
What’s the best way to handle weather disruptions?
Obviously no one can control the weather (despite the conspiracies circulating about certain government agencies building weather machines!), but there are ways to manage how you effectively respond to conditions to avoid undue disruption for customers.
There are three main considerations when planning around bad weather:
- Vehicles — Extreme weather can put extra stress on vehicles, raising the potential of breakdowns.Telogis Fleet not only helps you stay on top of regular preventative maintenance to make sure your vehicles are in peak condition before the weather hits, but can also provide real-time monitoring for a wide range of mechanical information from battery health to engine temperature.
- Drivers — When bad weather forces drivers to take alternative routes, it can put them in unfamiliar territory. Not only do they need extra assistance navigating to their destination, but poor visibility may mean they are struggling to read street signs or find off-ramps. Intelligent turn-by-turn navigation with optimized routing and hands-free two-way communication using Telogis Navigation can give them the confidence to get to the customer along the most efficient, and safest, route.
- Customers — Obviously when bad weather strikes, customers understand that delays may be inevitable. However, when customers are in the dark as to how long those delays may be, or if a driver will show up at all, then they become anxious, nervous and disappointed. They may contact a competitor to arrange to cover the job. With Telogis Fleet, you can effectively manage customer expectations, keeping them informed with real-time vehicle tracking and updated ETAs. You can even give them access to a web site that provides a view of where the vehicles assigned to their job currently are, and when they can be expected to arrive.
Stay in control regardless of the weather
Telogis fleet management software can’t control the weather, but it can help you control your fleet despite the weather. By providing drivers with dynamic routing to navigate around traffic congestion and road closures, as well as managing customer expectations, you can ensure that the weather has as little effect on your fleet operations as possible.
However, sometimes the best way to deal with a problem is to avoid it in the first place.
Telogis GeoBase™, the geospatial mapping engine used by Telogis’ fleet management software, features the ability to display real-time weather data. Just as commercial airlines often route planes around bad weather, fleet vehicles can be alerted to incoming weather that may disrupt their journey.
This is a particularly useful feature for long-haul vehicles where localized weather can block traffic, causing major delays or lengthy detours. Fleet operators can save time and miles by routing vehicles around the bad weather.
Sometimes weather simply needs to be weathered. And when it does, use Telogis fleet management software to help drivers find the best route and keep your customers informed. It can be the difference between a bit of bad customer service ‘weather’ and a major storm.