Businesses need a winter driving policy

Employees who drive for work need clear guidelines to help them make safe decisions during periods of bad weather.

Companies should issue all business drivers with advice and information about snowy and icy conditions. Many drivers even ignore police warnings because they might not be clear what their company regards as a “necessary journey” – a phrase often used by police to discourage motoring in unsafe conditions.

Leaving it up to the driver to judge when a journey is absolutely necessary may expose a company to a failure in duty of care. Employees need guidance from their employers and potentially life-saving advice about what to do if they find themselves facing dangerous conditions. The recent weeks of bad weather have caused terrible problems for some companies caught unprepared.

To help businesses start to form a bad weather driving policy, Cardinus has issued a checklist of questions for managers to consider:

  • Do you have a clear policy on driving for business, and does it give advice for winter conditions?  This helps your employees know what is expected of them.
  • Do you encourage drivers to avoid driving at all, if possible, if suitable alternatives exist – train, work from home, etc? To just get in and drive is so instinctive. Is it really effective use of time?  Six hours in a queue – or work from home in warmth and safety. To just get in and drive is so instinctive. Is it really effective use of time? Six hours in a queue – or work from home in warmth and safety.
  • Do you reinforce messages about winter driving to all staff (not just business drivers)before bad weather spells?  It’s not just your fleet drivers – do you expect employees to put themselves at risk driving to work?
  • Do you encourage drivers to plan ahead and adapt journey times or alternative routes, to take account of winter conditions?  Plan around weather, allow more time, choose less vulnerable routes.
  • Do your managers encourage and emphasise the value of regular vehicle checks?  Tyre tread, lights clean and working, windows clean, wiper blades in good condition, water and additive in screenwash are the main ones to check.
  • Do you encourage everyone to take the following items if travel is necessary?  Warm clothing, food and drink, shovel, brush, de-icer, charged mobile phone and a good book are the essentials. And remember, when your engine stops so does the heater. Keep that tank topped up – or stay home!
  • Do you encourage drivers to choose vehicles to reflect harsh conditions if this a regular part of their work? What drives your fleet choice, cost and image or practical consideration for real world conditions?
  • Do you carry out risk assessments for all your drivers to pick out who is most exposed to risks? Risk assessment will help you identify who is vulnerable due to lack of experience or poor skills in wintry conditions.
  • Do you provide additional training where required for ‘at-risk’ drivers, and review regularly? Training an inexperienced driver how to deal with bad weather will always be cheaper than the cost of an incident that could have been avoided.If you would like more information about winter driving, call 020 7469 0200.

You can now assess your fleet risk free-of-charge with our quick and easy to use online Fleet Audit which provides guidance on the management of employees who drive on company business, and the vehicles they drive. It covers all aspects of fleet risk management and may include areas of risk you haven’t considered.

For free access to the Fleet Audit click here.

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