Drive Safe Tips for Winter
We’ve had some great weather earlier this autumn, fab sunny days that extended this year’s brilliant summer well into September. However, October arrived bringing storms in its wake and plenty of greyer days just to make sure we don’t forget we live in rainy old Blighty. As the nights get longer, dusk is falling earlier and earlier, meaning many of us go to work and come home in the dark. The clocks went back this weekend and this is likely to have implications for workers the length and breadth of the UK, especially those working as drivers.
Fleet owners and drivers will need to ensure their vehicle is fully prepared for winter and now is the time to do it as you spend more and more of your working time in darkness.
You should always make sure that all vehicles are fully serviced and regularly and properly maintained – this is especially important if you drive in darkness a lot. You’ll also need to perform regular checks yourself throughout the winter (at least once a week) to ensure that everything is in good working order. Here are some of the things you should be looking at:
- LIGHTS – check the lights all round, interior and exterior – make sure that all bulbs are functioning correctly.
- WINDSCREEN – check the windscreen and the wiper blades and all other windows, especially the rear windscreen, are clean before each day’s work. Make sure your screen wash bottle is full – dirty windows reduce visibility, increasing the risk of an accident.
- TYRES – check the overall condition of all tyres, tread depth and pressure – make sure you check the spare too.
- BRAKES – make sure the brakes are working well at all times.
- FLUIDS – keep everything topped up, including oil, anti-freeze and windscreen wash.
If you drive a vehicle that does not belong to you or that you’re not used to driving (including hire cars) spend some time familiarising yourself with the controls before setting off.
Try to arrange all journeys so that you are driving in the safest possible conditions if at all possible. If you drive for your job, then putting it off is not usually an option so you’ll need to make sure you adapt your driving to the darker conditions. Here are some tips:
- Reduce your speed and keep it down as much as possible
- Make sure you leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead – don’t follow so closely that you can’t brake safely if necessary
- Anticipate the road ahead, even if it’s familiar to you. Look out for signs and scan the tops of hills for lights which could mean oncoming traffic – this is especially important on smaller roads and lanes
- Dip your lights in the face of oncoming traffic
- Be especially careful when overtaking after dark – make sure you can see the road ahead clearly enough to complete the manoeuvre – if you’re in any doubt, leave it a little while
- Plan your journey in advance, leaving sufficient time if there is a deadline involved. Driving under pressure is dangerous at any time, let alone after dark.