By Ryan Ziegler, Mobile Technician Lead, Cox Automotive
November 29, 2023
As winter descends with its icy grip, those of us in fleet management must brace for the impact. As a Mobile Technician Lead at Cox Automotive, I’ve had my fair share of winter battles. To give you a front-line view, I’ve turned to my colleague, Ben Deisig, a Senior Mobile Diesel Technician, who brings his Michigan-honed wisdom to the table. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation about winter preparedness and operations, punctuated with direct quotes to give you the unvarnished truth of our experiences.
Q: Ben, what’s your take on the essentials for preparing our spaces for winter?
“Be prepared for anything,” Ben says. “Have some form of ice melt on hand at all times. Drivers should be prepared for the worst before leaving each time. Better to be over-prepared than not prepared.”
I couldn’t agree more. Preparation for winter means expecting the unexpected. We stock up on ice melt, ensure shovels are ready for snow, and check that all heating systems are operational. It’s also about having those crucial team discussions to develop a coherent winter action plan.
Q: When it comes to emergency planning for extreme winter conditions, what’s your strategy?
“Honestly, the safest thing to do in these conditions is just to park the vehicle and let the bad weather pass,” Ben advises. He emphasizes that sometimes the best plan is to avoid the roads altogether, but he acknowledges that this isn’t always possible. “Keep an extra jacket in the car, some extra snacks, and a first aid kit in case you get stuck somewhere.”
Q: Monitoring the weather is critical. How do you stay informed?
“I watch the weather closely during the winter using my phone and local news channels,” Ben notes, highlighting the importance of staying ahead of the weather. Once December hits, it’s all about vigilance.
Q: Winter driving poses specific challenges for trucks and drivers. What are these challenges, and how should they be addressed?
“What challenges don’t they face?” Ben asks rhetorically. “Winter driving can be the hardest job in the country on any given day.” He stresses the difficulties of adding snow, wind, and ice into the mix. “Making sure drivers are trained in these conditions can make the difference between getting stuck in a road closure and being the cause of the road closure.”
Q: Are there any industry-specific guidelines or regulations fleets follow to winterize their fleet and warehouse loading areas?
“A lot of what a fleet can do is pay attention to their local guidelines as well as the guidelines of the routes they use,” Ben reminds us. From keeping chains on trucks to ensuring phones are charged, and extra warm clothes are packed, it’s about being prepared for every eventuality.
Q: Finally, what are your top tips for ensuring safety during the winter months?
Ben’s advice is succinct: “Make sure you give yourself plenty of time and following distance; execute a pre- and post-trip every time to ensure your equipment is safe for any winter weather driving.”
Winter isn’t just a season—it’s a call to action for those of us in fleet management. By preparing thoroughly, planning for emergencies, and educating our teams, we can confidently steer through the coldest months and keep our operations running smoothly.
Stay warm, stay safe, and let’s keep our fleets moving this winter.