With the long and unforgiving winter season fast approaching, driving under severe weather conditions becomes a major safety concern for both our employees and our clients. Even for seasoned drivers, snow and icy roads combined with reduced visibility can be very dangerous. In order to safely provide our valued clients with onsite services throughout the winter, we have dedicated a section under our Health & Safety Manual to the safe working procedures for winter driving. This year however, we have decided to go a step further by posting our own set of tips below for all those who will be engaging in winter driving, in the hopes that we will be able to keep both our employees and our clients safe.
Drive Less – The most effective practice for minimizing risk while winter driving is to simply drive less. Even if you are experienced, it is always better to avoid unnecessary risks. If you must go out for work-related travels or essential errands, you can still drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on the road by planning your travel-route before you set out.
Plan Ahead – A big part of making winter driving more comfortable is to know what to expect. The unpredictability of both weather and road conditions during wintertime is one of the major causes for higher likelihood of crashes. Whether it is to check the weather before heading out, or to choose a route that follows the main roads, planning ahead is one of the best ways to ensure your safety. Give yourself plenty of travel time on days with bad weather so you never have to rush. If you will be driving for long distances, we would also suggest for you to pack an emergency kit just in case something goes wrong. Warm clothing, first aid kit, jumper cables, food, water, just to list a few are items that you should definitely consider keeping in your vehicle.
Prepare Your Car – A couple weeks before the first forecasted snowfall is the best time to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter by performing a routine checkup and installing winter tires. If you have not used winter tires before, you will be surprised with how much of a difference they will make to your winter driving experience. The seasonal checkup usually includes lights, brake, steering, and battery. An insufficiently-charged battery can lead to difficulty starting your car, so have your battery properly tested and replace them if necessary. Another way to prepare your vehicle is to clean off all of the snow every time before you set off. Make sure that the entire windshield, all of the windows, the side mirrors and all exterior car lights are cleared off; doing so will allow you to see better and also be seen while driving. Always make sure the windshield fluid is topped up in case of snow or mud during driving.
Slow Down – Now we are getting into the tips for when you are actually driving. A lot of individuals have a bad habit of driving consistently at or slightly above the speed limit. This is especially not a good idea during winter, when it is much easier for vehicles to lose traction as a result of the slippery road surfaces. On top of maintaining a moderate speed, you should also slow down your acceleration and deceleration to avoid skids or losing control of your car. Do not make any abrupt stops or turns. Instead, try to maneuver the vehicle in a smooth and controlled manner.
Maintain a Safe Distance – When you are out on the road during winter, you must keep in mind that every other driver is likely having as much of a tough time as you are. So, to keep yourself and others around you safe, make sure you are not tailgating another vehicle. In fact, keeping an even greater following distance than usual will help provide you enough time and distance to make a safe stop on snow and ice-covered roads.
Pay Attention – Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous infractions even under normal driving conditions. During winter when the road conditions are at their worst, it becomes even more important for drivers to pay attention to their surroundings. The danger of skidding or losing control is greatest when you are taken by surprise, so stay proactive and try to anticipate what your next move is going to be to allow yourself more room to make any maneuvers.
Stay Composed – Although winter driving can be both challenging and frightening, there are many things you can do to make the process process a little easier. So instead of fearing every bump and slip, just take a deep breath and keep your composure. Having a clear mind while driving, no matter if it is during winter or not, will allow you to make split second decisions that can mean the difference between a close-call and a collision.