Now that we have shown you how to look after your commercial vehicles, it’s time to take a look at how to make sure you are safe whilst you are on the road.
6. Take your time
Conditions on the roads in winter can be dangerous, and if you are rushing then you may be heading for an accident.
If you know that we are in for a cold spell, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time before setting off on a journey so that you can factor in time to defrost your car or van to the point where it is safe to drive.
Once your vehicle is sufficiently defrosted, take your time on the roads so that you aren’t driving into a patch of ice or snowdrift too fast.
7. Keep safe distances
Even if you are driving at a safe speed, it doesn’t necessarily mean others are doing the same. It is safer to keep your distance from other drivers in winter; if they make a mistake, you don’t want to be caught up in the accident.
8. Keep a breakdown kit on hand
In the event of a breakdown, you can keep yourself safe by carrying around a breakdown kit. When using commercial vehicles in winter, make sure they are stocked with the following:
- Mobile phone power bank or phone charging cables – Make sure there is enough power in your mobile phone to make an emergency call.
- Hi-viz vest or jacket – If a vehicle has broken down, it is often safer to be outside the vehicle when waiting for help to arrive. If you have broken down on a motorway or by a busy road, being visible to other road users whilst at the side of the road is essential in keeping you and other passengers safe. Keep enough vests or jackets for everyone in the vehicle, and consider jackets to keep people warm in the winter.
- Red warning triangle – If safe to do so, a red triangle should be placed around 40-50 meters from the broken down vehicle to alert other drivers that there is a broken down vehicle nearby.
- Torch – In the winter months, the sun rises later and sets earlier than other months of the year, so if your vehicle breaks down in the dark and you intend to fix it, for instance changing a tyre, you need to be able to see what you’re doing.
- Water – Keeping bottled water in the back of a vehicle can help keep your team hydrated if they get stranded. Make sure to swap out water bottles now and then to stop them going stagnant.
- Non-perishable food – A quick snack can help to keep someone going if they are stranded in a broken-down vehicle. Something like a small chocolate bar or a bag of nuts can help to keep someone going while they wait for help.
9. Know how to recover from slips
When driving in snowy or icy conditions, it can be a common occurrence for a vehicle to start sliding on the slippery surface.
It can be an incredibly scary situation to find yourself in, but knowing how to stop yourself spinning out can help prevent accidents.
If you know you are coming up to a tight turn, you should slow down with plenty of time to make the turn. The slower you are driving, the less likely you are to go into a skid.
If your wheels start to skid on the ice, take your foot off the accelerator, turn the steering wheel the opposite direction to the way that you are turning, and lightly pump the brakes. Avoid turning into the skid, because if the wheels gain traction again, you are more likely to accelerate into the turn.
10. Check your lights
Because the days are shorter and the weather is often worse, you are likely to be less visible to other drivers.
The best way to be seen on the road in the winter is to have your lights in good working order. A driver should check that the lights are working every time they head out in the winter, and if a bulb is not working, the vehicle should not be used until it has been replaced.