December 15, 2022

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Cold as ice – Driving safe in freezing conditions

Freezing weather brings all kinds of hazards for the commercial driver. Simon Turner at Driving for Better Business looks at you how you can prepare your drivers so that they reach their destination safely.

Here are our top tips to share with your drivers for safe winter driving.

  • Falling leaves obscure hazards and markings, and they are very slippery. Autumn also brings earlier twilight, dark mornings and dazzling sun low in the sky.
  • Check your vehicle carefully – daily for vans, weekly for cars. Check tyre treads, lights and fluids – oil, water, and windscreen cleaner. Have de-icer and scrapers on board.
  • Avoid harsh driving. Hard acceleration, harsh braking, and sudden cornering all make skidding more likely. Allow extra anticipation and reaction time. Even if you can handle the conditions, other road users may not.
  • Drive slowly in rain, mist or fog. 13% of all serious collisions involve poor weather, and almost 80% of these involve rain. Poor visibility, aquaplaning, longer braking distances and flooding are all hazards. Don’t drive through any standing water deeper than four inches – even a small amount can wreck your engine and leave you stranded. If the road looks wet, but there’s no spray from the tyres passing you, watch out for black ice. Ice in the top corners of your windscreen, and on your mirror arms can be an indicator. Watch out: only 4 out of every 10 roads run by local highways authorities are gritted. Local authorities are not automatically obliged to remove snow or ice from roads. National Highways has extensive winter kit but also 4,300 miles of road to treat.
  • Keep your distance. Make the two second rule become the four second rule and give extra room when passing vulnerable road users.
  • Check the weather forecasts regularly and choose the safest route.
  • Keep a survival pack on board in case you get stuck. It should include warm clothing, waterproofs, a torch, energy bars, water, battery pack, boots.
  • Don’t stop on the hard shoulder unless the vehicle literally will not move. Take the first exit from a major road and find somewhere safe to park. Don’t push on to your intended stopping place if the conditions are treacherous.
  • Wear your PPE. Solid waterproof boots with a good tread help to avoid slipping and gloves with a strong grip are also important – freezing metal sticks to skin.

If the Met Office warns against unnecessary travel, don’t go unless the journey is critical. Better that deliveries are late than putting lives at risk.

Driving for Better Safety - Free eBook download

This eBook will guide you through some of the key understandings you need to be able to manage driver safety effectively and, at the end, provide a series of free resources you can access to help you ensure your own driver safety management system is robust, legally compliant and in line with industry-accepted good practice.

Download this eBook from Driving for Better Business and SHP to cover:

  • Why do we need to manage driver safety?
  • Duty of care – a shared responsibility;
  • Setting the rules with a driving for work policy;
  • Managing driver safety;
  • Ensuring safe vehicles;
  • Safe journeys and fitness to drive;
  • Record keeping;
  • Reporting;
  • The business benefits of good practice;
  • Additional resources

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