The Great British weather presents various challenges in different seasons. It’s not just the cold winter weather which presents great danger on the roads – even rain at any time of the year can be dangerous. In fact 9 out of 10 weather-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads have taken place in the rain. From high winds, strong sunlight, longer hours of darkness and fog to snow and ice, all weathers can present different challenges.
Driving in storms, rain and high winds-
Even moderate rain can reduce your ability to see and be seen. ‘If it’s time for your wipers, it’s time to slow down’.
- If heavy downpours are expected, try and avoid starting your journey until it clears.
- Gusts of wind can unsettle vehicles – grip your steering wheel firmly with both hands, particularly important when planning to overtake. Keep an eye out for the places you are more likely to be exposed to side winds (gaps between trees, buildings, bridges across rivers etc.). Ensure that you maintain enough room either side of your vehicle in case of it being blown sideways.
- Use dipped headlights if visibility is seriously reduced.
- Give yourself more time to react when approaching a hazard. Increase your following gap to at least four seconds from the moving traffic in front.
- Always keep a safe distance. Remember to give vulnerable road users including cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians more room than usual.
- If the road is flooded- never drive through flood water. Turn around if it is possible and safe to do so and find another route.
- Driving through puddles can stop your brakes working properly. Test your brakes immediately after driving through water by driving slowly over a flat surface and pressing the pedal gently.
Driving in mist and fog-
According to the Highway Code, you must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced (generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres).
- Make sure you’re familiar with how to operate your front and rear fog lights.
- Remember to check that the lights are on. However, do not use full beam lights, because the fog reflects the light back, reducing visibility even further.
- Follow the ‘two-second rule’ to leave sufficient space between you and the car in front.
- If visibility is very limited, wind down your windows at junctions and crossroads to allow you to listen out for approaching traffic. If you really cannot see, you should consider stopping until it is safe to continue.
- Use air conditioning to stop the windows from misting up. Ensure the heater is set to windscreen de-misting and open all the vents.
- If the fog is so severe that you’re struggling to see other vehicles, switch on your fog lights.
Driving in snow and icy conditions-
Be prepared. Before planning your journey make sure you check the latest weather forecast and plan your journey accordingly to the conditions. Only travel if really necessary.
- Before setting off clear your windscreen of snow, ice or condensation.
- Change your route if possible for better road conditions. Stick to the main roads where you can.
- Avoid steep hills and exposed roads hills and exposed areas as they are likely to present more challenging driving conditions in snow and ice.
- Accelerate gently, using low revs. You may need to take off in second gear to avoid skidding.
- Try not to brake suddenly – it may lock up your wheels and you could skid further.
- Keep a safe distance. You may need 10 times the normal gap between your car and the car in front.
- Be extra cautious at road junctions where road markings may not be visible.
- Stay well back from winter service vehicles spreading salt or using snow ploughs. Do not overtake unless it is safe to do so as there might be uncleared snow on the road ahead.
Check the condition of your van daily and report any problems as soon as you can for them to be checked and repaired.
- Every day before driving complete- oil check, water check, tyre pressure, lights and indicators to ensure everything is correct and working.
- Monitor and report tyres, ensure they’re in good condition, no visible defects and have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm to be safe in the wet and are not defected or illegal to drive with.
- With cold weather approaching please make sure windscreens are de-iced properly make sure the wipers are lifted from glass.
- Ensure that the vehicle is kept clean and tidy inside and out as it reflects on you and the company.
Regular preventive maintenance inspections may be based on time or mileage. Planned maintenance helps to prevent failures during use. It should be thorough, regular and frequent enough to meet the manufacturer’s guidelines and common sense. Pay special attention to:
- mirrors and any fittings that allow the driver to see clearly (for example, CCTV cameras);
- windscreen washers and wipers;
- warning devices (for example, horns, reversing alarms or lights);
- ladders, steps, or walkways;
- pipes, pneumatic or hydraulic hoses, rams, outriggers, lifting systems or other moving parts or systems; and
- Specific safety systems, for example, control interlocks to prevent the vehicle or its equipment from moving unintentionally, racking, and securing points for ropes.
- Don’t rush. Rushing in challenging weather condition can lead to an accident. Allow enough time to get to your destination.
- Stay alert as driving needs your full attention. You must not be driving under influence of alcohol, drugs or certain medication (please read labels on prescription drugs).
- Stay calm. Slow-moving traffic can be frustrating at times, keep your temper and don’t let other drivers aggravate you. Maintain safe speed and drive sensibly.
- Keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles.
- Keep your van well maintained and in good working order. Clean van is a safe van!