It’s no secret that with winter comes challenging road conditions, from snow and ice to rain and fog, and fewer hours of daylight. Drivers are said to be 20% more likely to suffer an accident in winter, and with 31% of fatal crashes involving someone driving for work, it’s important for employers to take action. Make safety a priority, by educating your drivers about these five winter driving tips.
Regularly Check the Vehicle
All employees who drive should be advised of how to properly check their vehicle before setting off. Fleet managers should provide a checklist including the following:
- Oil level
- Windscreen wash and wipers
- All lights, including fog lights
- Tyres – tread depth and pressure
- Brakes and brake fluid
It’s important that all drivers are well-trained in how to carry out these checks, and that they get into the habit of doing so on a regular basis.
Check Weather & Routes
Good practice in general is to check the route before setting out on a journey, so that drivers can prepare for any delays or problems. This is even more important in the winter months, when roads that you might ordinarily consider trouble-free can become extremely slow-moving or even blocked entirely. It’s also important to remember to allow plenty of time for de-icing and de-misting before embarking on a journey.
Employers should also ensure that drivers check the weather ahead. Drivers travelling cross-country in the winter need to be aware of any weather concerns they might meet on the journey. The north of the UK is historically snowier that anywhere else, and the Midlands are notorious for flooding.
Bring an Emergency Winter Kit
In the event of an accident, break down, or getting stuck, it’s a good idea to have an emergency winter kit stored in the vehicle. This should include both practical and comfort items such as:
- Jump leads
- Hi-Vis vest or jacket
- First Aid Kit
- Paper map
Drive Slow & Be Aware
While driving in poor winter weather conditions, it’s important to be aware of other drivers in the vicinity. In a flurry of snow or heavy rain, speed should be significantly decreased, making sure there is plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead – stopping distances can be up to ten times longer than usual. Having said this, in the event of a blizzard in which visibility is lost, drivers should keep sight of the vehicle ahead – their lights if nothing else. It’s important to stay steady and calm while driving in bad weather; drastic reactions are the reason behind a great number of accidents.
Stay Well Above the Limit
The golden rule of driving safely – at any time – is to avoid alcohol. The season of Christmas parties is always one for increased incidents on the road, with December 2018 seeing 4,761 convictions for drink-drivers. This is 16% more than in December 2017. Fleet managers should educate their drivers on the dangers of drink-driving, and have their own strict policies pertaining to this.
Driver safety should be a big priority for any company with a fleet of vehicles, both to protect employees and to avoid time-loss due to injuries and damaged vehicles. It’s important for business-owners to take vehicle safety seriously, allowing employees the time and resources they need to achieve it. While this is of course the case throughout the year, it’s even more important in the winter months.