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Advice when Driving in Severe Weather Conditions
Journey Planning - As with all adverse weather conditions, journey planning is key and should be a joint responsibility of both driver and company and is well worth including within your Road Risk Policy, Drivers Handbook and any driver inductions, training and tool-box talks.
As well as being one of your primary Health & Safety responsibilities by Law (see Driving At Work - 'Managing Occupational Road Risk' http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg382.pdf ) it is always good basic risk management to assess the need to travel, especially in adverse weather conditions, however if it is unavoidable then just a few minutes preparation before you set off can make all the difference to your journey. And don't forget to carry a winter kit (see appendix 1).
Both drivers and supervisors should consider the following factors before the journeys commence:
Additional weather forecasts can also be sought from the following websites:-
Highways Agency (updated twice daily and on Twitter) -
Met Office Severe Weather Warnings - http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings/#?tab=map&map=Warnings&zoom=5&lon=-3.50&lat=55.50&fcTime=1453766400
Is your vehicle up to it? - Ensure that all mechanical systems are good and you have sufficient fuel to cover all eventualities and delays. Keep warm clothing, snacks and drinks in the vehicle and ensure mobile phones are fully charged and Recovery Service help line numbers are to hand.
Driving in rain and floods - Stopping distances can be greatly extended in the wet. Slow down and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
'Aquaplaning' is the term used when your vehicles tyres lose their direct contact with the road surface, riding upon the surface of the water making the vehicle very difficult to control. When this occurs this condition can be countered by the driver taking their foot off the accelerator and reducing speed. It is advisable not to brake or steer suddenly as you will have less control of the steering and brakes.
Try to avoid driving through floods as this can cause terminal damage to engines, if you must then drive very slowly using a low gear and try to keep the engine revving at a high rate. Move forward continuously to avoid stalling. If driving an automatic transmission, select manual using a low gear. Test your brakes frequently after driving through water as they may be ineffective or very slow to operate.
Forethought when parking your vehicle near rivers, the sea or other potential flood or tidal risks should also be a consideration, opting where possible to park on high, stable ground.
Driving in windy weather - All vehicles, large or small are prone to the forces of the wind especially cross-winds. Consideration should give to more vulnerable loads. i.e. weight and distribution of diminishing load, particularly for goods vehicles and vans. High sided vehicles are particularly susceptible to windy conditions and can be blown off course or indeed over on to their sides. This may occur on open stretches of road exposed to strong cross-winds, or when passing bridges, other high sided vehicles, gaps in trees or in buildings.
In some circumstances industry best practice for drivers of unloaded curtain sided trailers and Goods Vehicles are advised to drive with curtains secured in the open position if possible to reduce the effects of cross winds. This is subject to the driver's own decision and must not be carried out if the drawn curtains obstruct the rear view mirrors or it is considered that damage may be caused to the trailer roof, rear doors or curtains.
Other considerations are simply to allow extra time to travel, reduce road speed to an acceptable level for the conditions, increase distance between the vehicle in front and in particular give more consideration to Vulnerable Road Users (VRU's are Motor Cycles, Cyclists and Pedestrians) who are even more likely to be effected by the weather conditions.
For more advice on winter and bad weather conditions see the following websites:-
Brake the Road Safety Charity http://www.brake.org.uk/info-and-resources/facts-advice-research/road-safety-advice/21-facts-a-resources/resources/946-weather
Appendix 1 - Winter Emergency Kit
You and your passengers
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. As well as the things you should be carrying on every journey regardless of the weather, you should make up a winter emergency kit to keep in the boot - hopefully you won't need it but you will be very glad it's there if you do.
Year - round essentials
Winter emergency kit
Make up an emergency kit at the start of winter and keep it in the car
When bad weather is forecast
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.
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