The end of British Summer Time heralds the beginning of the most dangerous time of year on our roads. There is no doubt that bad weather and longer nights pose a danger – with about fifty percent of all reported road traffic accidents at night occurring in wet conditions; even though in the UK it is wet on average only 10% of the nights.
Between 3-6pm is also a dangerous time – when people are travelling home after a busy day at work and children are making their way home from school. Now is therefore a good time to focus on staying safe on the road this winter – whether you are driving on work business or in your own time.
Before you drive:
To prepare your vehicle for winter driving give it a complete check-up – electrical system (battery, ignition and lights); brakes; tyres; exhaust; wipers; fluids, radiator/antifreeze and heating/cooling system. Keep your fuel tank near to full to ensure that you do not run out.
It is particularly important to check if your tyres are in good order (including the spare) and have plenty of tread depth. All drivers of BT Commercial Vehicles can order a gauge to help complete a weekly check of tyre pressures. Item code 047757 for single axle and 047759 for twin axle. Recent research has shown that effective well maintained tyres can have a major effect on stopping distances on wet and slippery roads. In really extreme weather, prepare an emergency kit for your car. Include items that cater for the unexpected – what would you need if you found yourself stranded miles from help during a snowstorm? Include items like warm clothing, boots, gloves or mittens, flashlight with fresh batteries, blankets, and fresh first-aid supplies.
During bad weather let people know where you are going, your route of travel, and when you expect to arrive. Plan your driving and likely arrival time in advance. Never drive if fatigued or under the influence of alcohol. Allow for extra travelling time or even consider delaying a trip if the weather is inclement. Is an alternative method of travel possible? Listen to weather forecasts, and if weather and visibility are hazardous, ask yourself: ‘Is this trip really necessary?’
On the road:
Drive according to current road and weather conditions. Whenever driving conditions are less than ideal, it pays to be cautious. Make sure that all windows (front, side and rear) and mirrors are clear and that wipers are in good working condition.
Drive slowly with low beam headlights on if visibility is poor, test your brakes frequently, leave a bigger gap and never tailgate. Posted speed limits are for ideal travel conditions. Driving at reduced speed, in a lower gear and at a safe distance from the vehicle in front are the best precautionary measures against any misfortune while driving on slippery roads. Lengthen your following distance behind the vehicle ahead of you – stopping distances double on slippery roads.
Safe driving this winter:
Remember to make sure you and your vehicle are in top condition; plan your journeys and adapt your driving style to allow for the road and weather conditions. Put safety before punctuality when the bad weather closes in. While it’s always a good idea to allow extra time in winter for your journey, drivers must accept the inevitability of being late for work if they are caught up in an unexpected delay.
Following successful trials, BT Fleet has agreed a supplier and recommends the use of Snow Socks, in extreme weather conditions, when a driver has (or considers they are likely) to have difficulty with the traction of the tyres. Snow Socks are NOT to be used routinely for any complete journey and can only be used on roads fully covered by snow and ice as opposed to being used on partially covered roads, which would tear the socks.
More detailed advice on winter driving is available from the: