Poor vision from rain, sleet, snow or fog is blamed for more than 2,500 accidents a year because in adverse conditions it is harder to see and takes longer to stop. Traffic may also be slow-moving, meaning journeys take longer than expected so drivers are more prone to tiredness. Companies with fleet drivers need to ensure all their motorists are clued up for driving in all weather conditions. Take a look at our fleet management and training services for your work team.
There are some basic principles that can be applied to winter driving, so let’s look at them one at a time.
1. Prepare your car before setting off.
Make sure windows are de-iced on the outside and de-steamed on the inside to avoid restrictive view. You should also check that your lights are clean and working, your battery is fully charged, and your tyres are in good condition.
2. Slow down
If visibility is poor or the road is wet or icy, it will take you and your car longer to react to hazards. It is therefore crucial that you reduce your speed and consider taking a speed awareness training course.
3. Maintain a safe gap behind the vehicle in front
In poor weather conditions, maintain at substantial gap between you and the vehicle in front. Your stopping distances are doubled in the wet and ten times greater in snow and ice. That’s a huge difference, so drive accordingly.In poor weather conditions, maintain at substantial gap between you and the vehicle in front. Your stopping distances are doubled in the wet and ten times greater in snow and ice. That’s a huge difference, so drive accordingly
- Snow or icy conditions – leave at least a 10 second gap.
- Wet conditions – leave at least a 4 second gap.
4. Look out for vulnerable road users
People on foot, riding bicycles, motorbikes and horses are harder to spot in adverse weather. Also look out for learner drivers as they have less experience in handling impromptu situations.
5. Pay attention to warning signs of adverse conditions
Adhere to weather warnings and look to the sky for dark cloud ahead. Do oncoming cars have snow on them? Is there a chance that there could be black ice on the road?
6. Stay in control
Avoid harsh braking and acceleration whilst driving to reduce the risk of skidding and losing control of the car. Carry out manoeuvres slowly and with extra care.
7. Use your lights
Dipped headlights are best whenever light levels are compromised by bad weather. It might be the middle of the day but in winter weather it gets very murky.
8. Use the highest gear possible in snow
Avoid wheel spin by using the highest possible gear but take care not to let your speed creep up. When driving downhill, choose third or fourth gear to prevent skidding. Drivers using a manual car should start off in second gear rather than first to minimise risk of wheels spinning.
9. Be aware of flooding
Many vehicles have been irreparably damaged by just a few inches of water. Floods often lift manhole covers and the holes or covers themselves remain concealed by the water level. If you need to cross shallow water, only cross when there is nothing coming the other way and drive very slowly in first gear with the engine speed high to prevent stalling. Test your brakes immediately after driving through floodwater by driving slowly over a flat surface and pressing the brakes gently.
Top Pre-Trip Tips
Consider whether your journey is necessary.
- Check forecasts and traffic news.
- Check your emergency kit.
- Check lights and wipers.
- Clean windscreen, windows and mirrors.
- Check your tyre pressure and tread depth. Traction is crucial on snowy icy roads
- Include a blanket, warm clothes, a shovel and wear comfortable dry shoes.
- Plan your journey – where possible, opt for main roads which are more likely to be gritted.
- Inform someone of your intended route and make sure your phone is fully charged.
- Ensure you’re fit to drive.
Use our free online fleet audit to review the risk management processes you employ to keep your fleet safe. On completion of the short questionnaire we’ll provide you with a prioritised risk report highlighting any areas that require attention and where possible what to do next.