Tips for driving in the winter

20/11/18

With the impending weather change and darker evenings during the winter months, drivers should be extra attentive to what’s happening around them and be prepared to adapt to diverse weather, road and traffic conditions.

In poor weather giving yourself more ‘space and time to the vehicle in front and those around you’ can make all the difference and will help to keep you and others safe. When the clocks go back we see a rise in the number of pedestrian fatalities rising from 37 in September to 63 in November.1

Transporting goods and services around the country is vital to our economy and in maintaining basic services. However, it is a sad fact that 24.5% of all casualties in reported road accidents in 2017 involved a driver/rider driving for work. 1

The seasonal change tends to create hazardous scenarios on a daily basis. These scenarios are generally down to motorists not being fully equipped to deal with the winter weather which can change from ice and low sun in the morning to high winds and heavy rain by the evening. RoSPA provides guidelines and essential vehicle checking procedures that should be followed to help prevent accidents, and keep yourself and others safe on the roads.

Before setting off on a journey, listen to traffic and weather reports, and in very bad conditions avoid driving completely, unless you absolutely have to and have no other option. It is understandable that motorists will not always be able to avoid driving in bad weather conditions, especially those whose livelihood incorporates or is dependent on driving. If you must drive in unpredictable conditions, you should prepare your vehicle, emergency kit, and journey, well in advance.

Driving is a skill that should always be worked on and improved, and winter provides the perfect platform for drivers to do just that. Snow and ice has become a rarity in Britain, although with changing climatic conditions the ‘Beast for the East’ may become more of a feature. If we have a repeat of this, always clear all your windows of ice and snow, driving through a port hole is illegal and remember to remove the snow from the roof of your vehicle (it may not be practical for HGV) Monitoring and reducing your speed is crucial in slippery conditions – the stopping distance is ten times more than normal, and sometimes visibility can be drastically impaired so be sure to use the correct lights (dipped headlights).

Another great tip is to keep your vehicle well ventilated. With it being so cold outside the heat can be overpowering inside, so drowsiness, especially on long journeys, can be a contributing factor to accidents.

Following simple guidelines could be the difference between you safely making it to your destination, or being stranded and needing aid. If you become stuck in snow you should not rev your engine to attempt to overpower it. Instead, move your vehicle slowly forwards and backwards using the highest gear you can, and if this doesn’t work, that shovel in your emergency kit will come in handy. Should you need help – in any situation – stay in your vehicle and call your breakdown service, or the emergency services if need be.

Avoid driving through flood waters and heed the warning signs of impending danger.

High rise vehicles provide an added danger factor. RoSPA recommends taking extra care in these types of vehicles, and if the weather brings really extreme weather or strong winds, do not risk driving.

For more winter driving tips, see www.rospa.com/winterdriving.

1 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-annual-report-2017

Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article. This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 20/11/18.

This article is part of series on risk management advice for hauliers. Other articles in this can be found at the bottom of the page:

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