The winter months present several additional hazards, it is our responsibility to adapt the way we drive and prepare for our journey. Hazards can include: –
• Ice and snow
• Reduced visibility due to fog/mist
• Reduced visibility from the angle/reflection of the sun
Allow extra time for winter journeys and slow your driving to match the conditions on the road.
Winter vehicle inspections:
Give your vehicle a visual inspection each day or before you drive it to see if there are any visible defects. Look at the lights on the dashboard and see if there are any illuminated that weren’t previously. There could be warning lights – make sure you act if any lights re illuminated that shouldn’t be.
It is even more important during the winter months to give weekly written inspections should on your vehicle. Items that should be included in your daily visual and weekly checks are:
• Make sure your lights are clean and in working order
• Check the windscreen and wiper blades are clean and washer bottle filled with screen wash
• Check pressure, tread depth and condition of tyres
• Consider taking de-icing equipment such as a scraper and or de-icing solution/aerosol in extreme conditions
• Ensure a fully stocked first aid kit is in the vehicle prior to commencing journey
Before driving in winter conditions (ice, snow, fog, etc.) – Listen to local/national weather broadcasts and travel bulletins – especially for the areas you will be driving through. If you do need to travel, the following tips might be useful.
• Let someone know where you are going and what time you hope to arrive, so they can raise the alarm if you get into difficulties
• Plan routes around major roads, these are more likely to be cleared and gritted
• Keep your fuel tank near to full to ensure that you do not run out. If you drive an electric vehicle, ensure it is fully charged.
• Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone, so you can call for help or alert someone if you’re delayed – it could be a long walk to a phone, if you don’t have a mobile phone
• Consider taking extra warm clothes, high vis vest or jacket, boots, hazard warning triangle and a torch. Consider keeping a couple of long-life energy bars in the glove box
• Clear your windows and mirrors completely of snow and ice before you set off (make sure the heater is blowing warm air before setting off – it will keep your windscreen clear)
If you are unsure about driving in winter conditions call your manager before you set off.
Driving safely in ice or snow:
- Reduce your speed significantly and remember that speed limits are just that – limits, they should not be exceeded. The chances of skidding in poor road conditions are much greater and this will reduce your stopping distance significantly.
- Avoid harsh braking, acceleration, sharp movements when steering, be much smoother with your driving style.
- Slow down before the bend in good time, rather braking in the bend, as braking when turning could induce over steer/understeer and your car could easily spin
- Increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front – by up to TEN times the normal distance – this will give you a greater stopping distance.
- Visibility will probably be reduced, so use dipped headlights and fog lights when applicable – only use fog lights when it is fogging or very poor visibility.
- Driving downhill – slow down before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid braking. Leave as much room as you can after the car in front
• It isn’t just snow, ice and cold temperatures that cause a problem in winter. The sun is lower in the sky for longer, fog is more prevalent, and rain can be more prolonged and heavy – always drive for the conditions and slow down
• Rain reduces visibility and increases the distances required to stop. Drive smoothly and plan driving manoeuvres in plenty of time
• Aquaplaning is caused by driving too fast into surface water. If it happens ease off the accelerator and brakes until grip is restored – do not brake as this could put you in spin
• In flooding, avoid the deepest water – this is usually near the kerb. If you must drive through floods, drive slowly in first gear but keep engine revs high by dipping the clutch and don’t stop until you are through – Always test your brakes when out of the flood
• In foggy conditions, switch on headlights and fog lamps
• Beware of accelerating quickly once fog has cleared. If the fog it patchy, you may be driving blind again moments later – keep your speed down in foggy conditions
• In low sunshine reduce speed, and keep the inside and outside of the windscreen clean and free of grease
• If you drive an automatic, check the handbook – some have a winter mode or recommend selecting ‘2’ in slippery conditions
If you would like a copy of our toolbox talk on this topic to present to teams or any further information click here to Contact Us.