Summer may be coming to a close, but the heat sure hasn’t gone down. And while many people believe cautious driving is more important in the winter, the truth is many accidents still occur in the spring and summer, when temperatures and road conditions are at their best.

Even if your business has just one company vehicle, which a few employees occasionally use for deliveries, site visits, sales calls or any other minor tasks, it’s important to keep your drivers and cars safe by preparing them for warmer weather.

Here, we outline some safety tips for driving in warmer weather:

Be aware

It may seem simple, but making sure you’re aware of your surroundings while on the road can be the difference between a smooth drive and an accident. In fact, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of driving fatalities in Canada. Here are a few tips on things to do when the warmer weather hits:

  • Remind your staff to be extra careful when they’re on the road even though the snow is gone.
  • Specifically remind employees to look out for cyclists and motorcycles when they’re driving — both are much more common when it’s warm out.
  • Remind your employees that they shouldn’t be on a cell phone while driving a vehicle.
  • Ensure you have an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle, in case your car breaks down.

Perform maintenance

Drivers often think to perform maintenance on their cars before the winter, undertaking tasks like changing out regular tires for winter ones. But regular maintenance and vehicle checks are always a good idea. In the summer of 2015, the CAA had to help 750,000 Canadians from the roadside. Most of those cases involved battery problems, tire issues, or people locking their keys in the vehicle. Almost half of the cases were not a simple fix, and required the car be towed to a second location for additional assistance.

To ensure this doesn’t happen to you or your employees, here are some checks you can perform during the warmer seasons:

  • Make sure tire treads aren’t worn or damaged.
  • If you haven’t already done so, check the bottoms of your vehicles for damage to exposed suspension, steering, and brake parts.
  • Check if your car requires any tune-ups, oil changes, or tire rotations.
  • Check that your batteries are in good working order.
  • Check your air conditioning performance regularly. People who are in poor health or are sensitive to heat could be adversely affected if air conditioning is not working.
  • Check your coolant level to make sure the reservoir is full (only when the car hasn’t been running and the engine is completely cool). If your coolant is clear, looks rusty, or has particles floating in it, have your cooling system flushed and refilled. If your coolant looks sludgy or oily, take your vehicle to a mechanic immediately.
  • Periodically check your oil level. In addition, check the following fluid levels: brake, automatic transmission or clutch, power steering, and windshield washer.
  • Ensure that all of your lights are in working order. Check your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights.
  • After the influx of winter storms, your windshield wiper blades may need to be replaced. Examine your blades for signs of wear and tear.
  • Check all belts and hoses under the hood to make sure there are no bulges, blisters, cracks, or cuts in the rubber. When temperatures climb,, rubber belts and hoses can degrade faster, so it’s best to replace them if there’s any signs of obvious wear.

Reward good behavior

When your employees are driving company cars, telling them to be responsible can only do so much. That’s why offering rewards for responsible driving can be a great approach. Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Host vehicle safety programs and sign employees up for defensive driving classes.
  • Implement accident-free incentive schemes or good-driver bonuses.
  • Use telematics to make sure employees are being safe on the roads and reward the drivers who are.

Insurance, insurance, insurance

Despite your best efforts, you can’t always control everything. That’s why it’s so important to have protection, should you or one of your employees get involved in an accident. Make sure you have a commercial auto insurance policy, as your personal auto policy may not provide the coverage you need. It’s also important to review your commercial auto insurance policy to ensure any employees using company vehicles are covered.

A proactive approach to defensive driving is just as important during warm weather as it is in the winter. Even if you or your employees don’t take the company car out often, make sure they’re as safe as possible when they do. A little awareness and routine inspections can go a long way towards keeping your employees, vehicles, and your business safer over the next several months.

To learn more about how Federated can help, visit our commercial auto insurance page today!