Even though we have not felt the winter weather as yet it is useful to consider the precaution motorist can (should) take for driving in winter weather. You might say ‘what has this got to do with Workplace Health and Safety’. Two reasons
- Many times driving is the workplace (and as such is covered under the Health and Safety at work ect act 1974)
- Getting staff safely to the workplace is beneficial to the Company Prior to getting to the car
Winter service – to ensure all liquids, such as brake fluid, battery, screen wash, coolant etc are not only topped up but also of the right strength for winter condition.
Tire tread is not only legal but also of sufficient depth to help in icy / snowy condition.
Equipment – in winter condition it is important that all cars, no matter how much they travel, carry extra equipment such as first aid kit, towrope, hi-viz vest / jacket, fire extinguisher, such as CO2 or powder, warning triangle, scraper, touch, spare tire (all this should be in the car all year round), and for winter specifically – blanket, shovel, boots and grit / salt.
Planning – prior to setting out listen to the weather report for the area you will be driving to ensure that the routes are passable. Make sure you have map / satnav in case you need to deviate from your planned route. Bottle of water and even a flask of hot drink might come handy as will some food, in case the journey takes longer than planned or if you get stuck. Ensure you have warm clothing (gloves, hat and scarf) in the car and maybe even a change of clothing. Part of the planning is also to ensure your screen wash is full. Ensure you have plenty of fuel and a fully charged mobile. Always allow plenty of time.
Prepare the car – before setting out make sure that all windows and lights are cleared of snow and ice. Also ensure that any snow are removed from the bonnet and roof of the vehicle, nothing worse than breaking the vehicle and an avalanche of snow cascade down the windscreen making you unable to see in front of you or cascading off the roof onto vehicles behind you.
Setting off and driving – when setting off in icy or snowy condition ensure you do not over-rev the car as this will get the wheels spinning which will make it more difficult getting moving, this also goes for driving as you are more likely to skid. Speed when driving should be kept appropriate to the condition of the road. It is important not to drive too fast – more likely to skid or have an accident or too slow – more likely to get stuck or other vehicles having an accident due to overtaking etc. Avoid hard braking as this is more likely making the car skid.
Always making sure the distance between you and other vehicles are more than required under normal driving condition.
Emergencies – if you feel the car starting to skid steer into it and do not lock your brakes. If you get stuck try to rock the car forward and backwards, using the engine until the vehicle gets going, if this doesn’t work you might have to dig the vehicle out or using the grit / salt you are carrying to give grip. If the worst happens and you are unable to move the vehicle the first action is to call for recovery but depending on the weather that could take some time. Abandoning the vehicle should be the last thing to do, as the vehicle is likely to block the road in some form, which is why you have blanket, food and hot drink. If you as a last resort are abandoning the vehicle try to make it as safe as possible to other road users.
Do not panic.
Above is a guideline to winter driving and is not exhaustive. Most important of all, however, is that if you do not think it is safe to drive don’t.
Useful contact for further information:-
Your local radio and television station