More than a quarter of all road traffic accidents may involve somebody who is driving as part of their work at the time (Department of Transport). In winter, this figure is likely to increase, as you are 20% more likely to be involved in a road accident during wintery weather.
Roads are made more dangerous with harsher weather conditions with snow, ice, sleet and excess water causing you to lose control of your vehicle. Other road users with winter colds can also make roads more dangerous with slower reaction times.
Effective management of work-related road safety, especially during winter, helps reduce risk no matter what size your organisation is.
To help you drive more safely this winter, here are our top winter driving tips.
Winter Driving Safety Tips
Preparing for your journey
Before you set off on your journey, there are a range of steps you can take to avoid an accident.
- Allow for extra time for winter journeys. Use tools such as Google Maps or Apple Maps to estimate how long your journey will take and add a few extra minutes on top of that.
- Plan your journey around main roads which are likely to be clear of debris and will be gritted.
- Ensure that you have enough fuel for your journey – have at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delays.
- Before you set off, keep the windscreen and other windows clear of dirt, snow and condensation. If snow is on the car, clear it completely off to avoid causing a hazard for other road users.
Preparing your vehicle
When driving in winter, you must ensure that your vehicle is prepared for the unexpected. Even the most minor faults can cause safety issues in wintery conditions.
Before winter sets in, it’s always a good time to arrange a service for your car to identify and solve any identified issues. If you are unable to get a service in time for winter, you can consider other parts of your car including:
- Lights: Ensure that all lights are in working order. Winter can bring foggy, misty and wet conditions where driver visibility is severely impacted. Ensuring that your lights are in working order not only protects you, but also other road users and pedestrians. If there is snow, always clear off any snow from lights front and back.
- Tyres: In winter, it is recommended that your tyres have 3mm of tread. If you are considering new tyres, think about obtaining winter tyres of all-season tyres, these are made from special rubber that gives better grip in cold, wet conditions.
- Battery and electrics: In winter, cold weather can have an impact on how well your battery functions. Before starting your ignition, turn off all electrical loads like lights, heated rear window and wipers. If your engine doesn’t start quickly, wait 30 seconds between attempts.
- Antifreeze: It’s recommended that you top up your antifreeze to avoid any impact to your engine. You need a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water for winter, which protects your engine down to -34C.
- Screen wash: In winter, the mixture of water, grit and other debris can cause your windscreen to become really dirty during a trip. Always ensure that your screen wash is topped up, and in the case that you have none left, always carry a little bottle of screen wash diluted water in your driver’s side storage bin to use in case of emergencies.
Driving during winter can be a challenge for even the most experienced drivers. Therefore, it’s important to prepare yourself for the unexpected by altering your driving style and packing essential items.
- Keep your distance – Research suggests that your stopping distance can be doubled in wet conditions and multiplied by 10 in snowy and icy conditions. If you drive too close to other road users and they stop suddenly, you may mind that you have no time to stop safely.
- Take your time – In wintery conditions, there’s no need to rush. It’s important to take your time, concentrate on the road conditions and traffic ahead of you and drive as safely as possible.
- Carry an emergency kit – It’s the one thing we all worry about, breaking down or being trapped in snow in winter. However, carrying a winter emergency kit with essentials can make the idea less daunting. In your kit, you should carry a blanket, a torch, a fully charged phone, some food and other essentials you think you may need. Here’s a short guide to help you make your kit:
Disclaimer: the information provided in this article is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. This article is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. For legal advice, you should seek independent advice .