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4 Ways Dispatchers Keep Drivers Safe in Winter

Published on January 22, 2015 by in Blog, CATI

red truck on winter road

It would be an understatement to say that dispatchers are the guardians of the trucking industry – especially in ravaging winter weather conditions. While truck drivers are limited to what they can do from their cab, dispatchers have access to a wide range of information from computers, radars and other drivers in their fleet. In Ontario especially, the winter can get pretty unpredictable, which is why dispatch training in Ontario ensures that dispatchers know how to best assist drivers in snow storms, squalls and whatever else Mother Nature brings during the winter season.

Monitor Weather Conditions

Probably the most important duty for a dispatcher in the winter is to monitor and inform drivers of incoming weather conditions. Closely observing weather is crucial, as severe snowstorms may require a driver to delay delivering their load for the sake of safety. Dispatchers monitor weather using the Doppler radar, which beams microwave signals to analyze the disruptions in the frequency – an indicator of weather conditions in certain areas. The Doppler radar also helps dispatchers predict the projected path of storms.

Plan Routes and Stops

Dispatchers have the responsibility of choosing routes for their drivers that they know are plowed and frequently used. Dispatchers are also responsible for reporting black ice warnings, or routes which are congested because of an accident.  This all ensures that the driver is not only safe, but can deliver their cargo on time. If a driver is worried about the weather affecting their driving, they can contact the dispatcher to direct them to the closest rest stop.

Allow Drivers Flexibility

Dispatchers are often held accountable by clients when loads don’t arrive on time. However, even though they are the ones who must provide details and explanations in these situations, dispatchers know when it is necessary to give their drivers a break. Being a good dispatcher means understanding that driving in severe winter weather is hazardous, and professionals with dispatcher training would never pressure their driver to take unsafe risks to meet a pre-determined schedule.

Give Sound Advice

Although the driver is responsible for checking all aspects of their cargo and truck, in tough weather a dispatcher may take it upon themselves to give the driver reminders about their equipment. This could mean checking their tire chains, topping up their washer fluid, clearing their mirrors and wipers and most importantly double checking their brakes.

Dispatching training, combined with several years on the job, give dispatchers a sense of forewarning about how to react in certain weather conditions. They may give drivers sound advice such as not to pull off to the shoulder in a bad snowstorm (cars may follow the truck and crash from behind), keep a safe distance from cars ahead, and to maximize the distance around the truck by not travelling in packs with other vehicles. Breakdowns and accidents happen more frequently in the winter, in which case a dispatcher may suggest that their drivers always carry extra warm clothing, tire chains, a long tow chain, washer fluid and food.

What special advice would you give about staying safe while winter driving?

 
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