Staying safe on the roads over winter

Staying safe on the roads over winter

Are you hoping for snow this winter? You may well be disappointed. Latest forecasts are predicting it to be fairly mild with temperatures reaching as high as 13 degrees in some parts of the UK.

And while we’ve escaped prolonged frosts, ice and snow so far there is still a long way to go before we start to see the signs of spring.

So with winter upon us, we at Brigade are offering our top tips for drivers – of all vehicles – to help them stay safe when the bad weather really starts to bite.

General maintenance

Vehicles of all types can quickly become grubby on winter roads, leading to smeared windscreens, dirty wing mirrors, and smudgy lights. Keeping these areas of your vehicle as clean as possible will help with visibility on dim days and is essential for the long winter nights. Keeping your windscreen washer fluid topped up is crucial and add anti-freeze so you can keep it clean when the mercury really drops.

In icy conditions, gritters will head out to keep the roads clear, but the salt they leave behind can have a damaging effect on your vehicle if left. The salt can corrode metal and exposed parts, so washing a car as often as you can to wash away any salt will help protect the bodywork and paint.

Engines run better when they are warm so in really cold weather allows an extra five minutes for your vehicle to warm up. This extra time can be used to defrost windows and mirrors and get the inside of the vehicle heated up before you head off.

Hazardous weather

As a country, we are well known for our wet weather, but winter can bring torrential downpours that can make the roads quickly hazardous. Ensuring windscreen wipers are up to scratch and up to speed is essential. Be aware of standing water and the disabling effect it can have on tires, especially at speed. If faced with a large puddle or patch of water, slow down.

In adverse conditions, all drivers should increase the space between them and the vehicle in front. In wet weather, your stopping distance can double and in snow or ice, it can increase tenfold. Leaving enough space helps you to stop safely and gives you time to deal with a hazard.

If we do get snow this winter, keep in mind the rules around driving in the white stuff. The Highway Code states that all ice and snow must be cleared from windows before you set off and any flakes that could fall into the path of other motorists – such as from the roof – should be removed. Number plates should also be cleared and legible.

Winter can bring storms and high winds – a hazard drivers of high sided and large vehicles should be aware of. If such weather hits, plan your route carefully to avoid exposed or high roads where possible.

The Freight Transport Association also advises HGV drivers to anticipate how such conditions may affect other road users, such as cyclists and motorcyclists, and to take care when driving empty lorries, as these can be more susceptible to high winds.

Staying safe

If having to head out in snowy or icy conditions, drivers are advised to pack emergency items such as warm clothing, boots, jump leads, an ice scraper and a shovel, which should help if you get stuck or your vehicle break down.

For those getting behind the wheel of commercial vehicles, trucks or plant machinery, having extra technological measures on board – such as sensors – can also help. Seeing through the fog, rain and snow can be tricky, particularly if you’re maneuvering a vehicle with blind spots.

Such systems will alert a driver to a potential danger. Brigade’s Ultrasonic Obstacle Detection systems provide an audible warning, informing the driver of the distance between obstacle and vehicle. To find out more about how it could help your drivers in winter weather, get in touch with our team here.