Fleets should take action to upskill or refresh their drivers before the cold weather sets in, according to DriveTech.
The driver training and risk management specialist warns that with driver numbers substantially down since the Covid-19 virus hit the UK in March, motorists who haven’t driven for a while may find the return to work something of a shock.
DriveTech head of commercial development Oli Stephenson said: “We know that the odds of being involved in a road collision are 29 to 49% higher if you are driving a company car – and that’s a statistic that doesn’t take into account the unprecedented drop in business journeys we’ve witnessed since the start of the pandemic. Drivers returning to a more normal working routine this winter may find a relatively sudden increase in business driving hits them hard as the nights start to draw in, visibility on the roads decreases and the weather worsens.”
DriveTech has recently launched a new e-learning winter module (as part of a 2020 relaunch of online assessments and a comprehensive suite of e-learning) to help drivers adjust to the changing weather conditions
“Online driver risk assessments are a cost effective and accessible way to assess fleet driver risk for employers and drivers looking to improve employee safety on the roads this winter,” Stevenson added.
“Keeping driver downtime to a minimum, they act as a highly practical tool to establish the nature and weight of risk any driver is likely to be exposed to according to their specific driving patterns and experience. Dedicated 10 to 15 minute e-learning modules can also be followed up with three two-minute micro teach modules, effectively extending the learning and development window for the benefit of businesses and their drivers. By expanding driver risk management approaches, companies can reduce accident rates by as much as 35%.”
The 10-minute course, available for cars, SUVs, vans and LCVs, can be completed around the clock and accessed via desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
DriveTech’s top tips for safe winter driving include:
Before you set off
- Refuel the night before a journey, checking radio/TV for traffic and weather updates
- Keep breakdown recovery contact numbers in the vehicle
- Do a POWDER check: Power (fuel or electric) sufficient for the journey, sufficient Oil and other fluids, Water for washers, radiator, drinking, Damage to lights, windows, mirrors, number plates, Electrics, bulbs, wipers, horn and warning lights, Rubber, tyres, wiper blades
- Remove ice and snow from all windows before moving off. If you have to clear snow, don’t forget the lights so you can be seen and the roof so it doesn’t fall on the windscreen and block your view
- Set dashboard air outlets towards door windows to improve wing mirror visibility
Driving in poor conditions
- Use dipped headlights so that others can see you
- Only travel at a speed at which you will be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear
- Avoid harsh braking and acceleration or aggressive steering, as these actions can lead to skids. Reduce your speed smoothly and use brakes gently
- Drive in the highest gear as soon as possible but ensure it offers engine braking when the accelerator is release – crucial when descending slopes or hills
- When in snow and ice, use engine braking through the gears. Just touch the brake pedal lightly to show brake lights to others behind
- A lack of road noise could indicate the presence of ice. Increase your following distance by ten times when driving on ice
- Fresh snow can provide better grip at low speeds than compacted snow, which is effectively ice
To take on your journey
- On any journey, always take a hi-vis jacket, mobile phone and charger and first aid kit
- In winter months, you should also carry: de-icer and ice scraper, extra screen wash, torch, warm clothes, sturdy footwear, a shovel and snacks/drinking water in case you get stuck or delayed for a long time