19 September 2019 - Podcast
During winter drivers need to adapt to varied weather, road and traffic conditions, including snow and ice, rain, fog, strong winds or glare from the low angle of the sun. Department for Transport figures for 2012 show that 38 people were killed and 544 seriously injured in road accidents when snow or ice were on the road surface.
Winter Driving Policy
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, employers should have a winter driving policy to cover employees who drive for work purposes, giving guidance on when journeys should no longer be undertaken because of severe weather conditions. Companies should ensure that their drivers know about road conditions and weather, and pay attention to warnings not to continue their journeys from official external sources or within the firm.
A winter driving policy should cover pre-winter checks for company-owned vehicles and privately-owned vehicles which are driven for work purposes. Vehicles should be fully serviced and the anti-freeze tested prior to winter starting, or employees should be encouraged to carry out vehicle checks themselves on:
- Windscreens, wiper blades, and other widows
- The condition, tread depth and pressure of all tyres including the spare
- Fluids such as screen wash, oil and anti-freeze
Winter journey planning
Where conditions are not bad enough to prevent travel completely, journeys should be managed and planned taking account of:
- Road type and whether rural or minor roads could/should be avoided
- Hazards such as accident black spots, ungritted roads or high winds on particular sections of road
- Density of traffic and whether peak-time journeys can be avoided
- High-risk natural features such as steep hills in icy conditions
Journey scheduling should provide sufficient time for rest stops, allowing drivers to take account of weather and traffic conditions and to comply with speed limits. In winter journey routes and times may need to be altered. Employers should also review with their employees the procedures to be followed in the event of an accident, break down or getting stuck, and make sure that vehicles contain adequate equipment for each of these circumstances.
In extreme weather drivers should be encouraged to:
- carry an emergency kit including fully-charged battery, torch and blanket
- let someone know their destination and estimated time of arrival
- plan alternative routes in case their intended route is impassable
By planning ahead employers can limit their liability and make sure that their workforce is well-equipped to deal with the extra demands of winter driving as safely as possible.