Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Dec 02, 2021

Are your company vehicles ready for winter?

Safety and Health 

With winter driving season upon us, now is the time to ensure company vehicles are ready for cold weather. Servicing a company car or truck should include:

  • Checking the battery. Most battery failures happen during the first cold weather snap.
  • Replacing wiper blades. After a long, hot summer, wiper blades will get hard and brittle, causing poor visibility during winter rainstorms.
  • Inspecting tires. Worn tires won’t provide adequate traction in the rain or snow.
  • Inspecting lights. Ensure all lights, including head lights and taillights, are in working order.
  • Ensuring windshield washer fluid is full and contains an anti-freeze solution. You should also keep an ice scraper and de-icing spray in the vehicle to ensure the driver can remove ice from window surfaces prior to moving the vehicle.
  • Inspecting the brakes. This step can easily fall by the wayside if you don’t have a regular brake inspection schedule.
  • Checking to see that the vehicle’s emergency kit is fully stocked. It should contain extra gloves, flares or reflective warning triangles, a shovel, a flashlight, extra batteries for the flashlight, and a small sack of gravel or cat litter for traction in the ice. Depending on where you expect to travel, you may want to also include warm blankets, water, and snacks, in case you unexpectedly need to spend a night on the road.
  • Verifying that tire chains are in good shape if employees will be driving on roads where traction devices are required.

Tips: These steps are a good idea for any company car or truck. Most of these items should already be part of each vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule or covered during routine oil changes or fluid services from a third party. Also, if you have employees on staff who are inclined and capable, they may perform some of these services. Be sure to check with your trusted vehicle service provider for guidance.

If your company vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) under U.S. Department of Transportation rules, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes detailed requirements for annual inspections. For more information, including links to federal regulations and an example vehicle inspection report, see the FMCSA’s web page on vehicle inspections. You should also check to see if your local state transportation agency has additional inspection requirements.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.