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Winter Weather Impacts Trucking

Winter Weather Impacts Trucking.TheRoad


The holiday season has arrived, and it’s a busy time of year for everyone in the transportation industry. We’ve all spent a lot of time planning for all of the areas we can control, but there are some things that can’t be predicted, only anticipated—like severe weather. And while winter has been fairly easy on us so far, it’s only a matter of time before a storm rolls in.

Winter weather can have an extreme impact on the trucking industry, ranging from the safety of drivers to costs associated with delays. A shut down on a major interstate can delay freight to an entire region, and it can take days or even a week for trucking companies to make up lost time.

As a 25-year veteran in the industry, I have seen a lot of weather-related events disrupt supply chains. But I’ve also seen carriers handle these situations well by keeping four best practices in mind when unpredictable weather strikes.

  • Communicate. If you see that winter weather is a potential threat to your route, proactively communicate with your dispatcher. Doing so allows your dispatcher to communicate with the shipper or third party logistics provider (3PL), so they are aware of what’s happening. Speaking from the 3PL side of things, I know it is much appreciated when communication is proactive.
  • Work together. The thing with winter weather is that no one can control it. But you can control your response to it. Cooperation among all involved parties—carriers, shippers, and 3PLs—will help alleviate additional stress. After all, no one is excited about the potential for delays, but efficiency kicks in when everyone works together.
  • Map your route. Look for alternative routes that can take you around the storm’s path or out of the aftermath of its ice-packed or snowed-in roads. Planning ahead is key to making this happen.
  • Be safe. Everyone wants their product received on time to satisfy customers, but your safety should always come first.

How has weather impacted your business? Please share how you plan for weather events or manage unforeseen conditions within your organization. Any best practices are we share with each other are helpful and can make us all safer.

- Director of Capacity Development- C.H. Robinson


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