A Shift in the Weather

I am currently watching The Weather Channel as Hurricane Sandy bears down on New England. This storm will be one that people talk about for many years to come, and shows the power and unpredictable nature of…well…nature.

Chicago has had its share of severe and unpredictable weather, everything from snowstorms to tornados, flooding rains and droughts. And while these events can inspire awe (and camera opportunities); it’s the routine weather that we often fail to prepare for.

A large part of what we preach at O’Hare-Midway is chauffeur safety. We constantly remind anyone operating a vehicle with us that safety is job one, and preparation is an important starting point. Working with our chauffeurs on preventative and operational strategies is a great place to begin.

Preventative strategies include maintenance and repair policies that keep all O’Hare-Midway vehicles in optimal operating condition. From tires to wiper blades, our weekly vehicle inspections are designed to find potential problems before they become real problems. Once discovered, corrective action is required in order for a vehicle to resume operation in the fleet.

Operational strategies use the people and tools at our disposal to maneuver vehicles safely and efficiently. For example, under normal conditions, a ride from O’Hare Airport to downtown Chicago might take approximately 30 minutes. However, in extreme weather conditions, that time will double or triple. Travel times can be confirmed using information provided by our on-board GPS units, and dispatchers can use this information to dispatch vehicles earlier and minimize “hurrying” chauffeurs, which can lead to speeding…errors in judgment…and accidents.

This time of year offers substantial challenges to all drivers, and especially to people that drive for a living. Fewer hours of daylight, and having the sun lower in the sky are two issues often taken for granted, yet both create significant hazards. Colder weather also means hats and coats…again something we take for granted, yet both can obscure the vision or hearing of pedestrians…yet another hazard.

Some drivers overlook seasonal weather shifts, but these tend to be annual “learning opportunities”. For instance; the first couple of snowfalls each season give us a chance to relearn safe driving and vehicle handling techniques. Icing of roads allows us to relearn how our vehicles react to acceleration and deceleration with minimal surface contact. Extreme cold – just like extreme heat – effects the efficient operation of a vehicle. There is much to learn, regardless of the season, and drivers should use these “learning opportunities” to hone their skills.

A shift in the weather is taking place, and it makes sense to be prepared. Safety isn’t just a plan…it’s a way of thinking…and it’s something we always think about at O’Hare-Midway Limousine Service.

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Dale Schahczinski
Goal driven team leader, with industry experience spanning all aspects of operations and administration.