With the clocks going back a fair few weeks ago now, we are most definitely in the midst of winter, with a need to focus on winter driving and being more careful when on the roads.
With the inevitable changes in driving conditions bought about by winter weather, it’s essential that we are all prepared to handle everything that is thrown at us, no matter what type of vehicle we drive. From heavy downpours to the potential of thick snow, weather will obstruct the way we drive for the next few months.
In the early stages of winter, the early dark evenings and the low daylight sun are just two issues that require our attention. There are legal obligations that must be complied with, whether as a company or a driver. The company must consider its duty of care towards its workforce and drivers should show knowledge of the law and act responsibly. Our drivers here at Glevum Security are trained specifically in this field of safe driving, no matter the weather or time of day. We respond to incidents in the depths of the night continuously, therefore this is a need for many businesses across the UK. This year, 2022, the new Highway Code also brings into play more stringent advice regarding driving in winter conditions that must be adhered to, where failure to do so will result in substantial fines for a driver of up to £1,000.
Let’s look at the employer’s legal obligations first and consider guidance to ensure legal compliance. Driving on company business is a high-risk task that an employee undertakes on behalf of the company. Unfortunately, many employers either overlook this or are just not aware of their obligations related to their duty of care towards the employee.
Employers should ensure there is a policy in place related to the vehicle fleet (including ‘grey fleet’) that demonstrates legal compliance. This policy should include:
- Are the vehicles fit for purpose?
- Are the drivers licensed to drive the vehicle?
- Are all drivers able to demonstrate both mental and physical wellbeing?
- Are all driver and vehicle documents checked and recorded?
- Is advice and guidance related to winter driving available and distributed to all?
- Does a policy of ‘vehicle safety checks’ exist, and is this document distributed to all drivers?
Now let’s consider the employees’ legal obligations. All employees who drive for work should comply with the following:
- Initially always ask the question, “Is the journey necessary?”
- Carry out regular vehicle safety checks, especially tyres and lights, in winter
- Plan your journey, study the weather forecast, provide an ETA to those at your destination
- Ensure your vehicle is equipped with a mobile phone charger, ice-scraper, blanket, de-icer, high-visibility clothing and a hazard warning triangle, and make sure you wear warm/suitable clothes
- Defrost the vehicle, ensuring all snow is removed from glass areas, lights and your roof, as this could either fall down onto your windscreen or blow off onto somebody else’s (Highway Code Sect 229 and Road Traffic Law-DVLR Reg 23; Con & Use Regs 30;)
- Ensure you have plenty of fuel as your journey may take longer than usual (see section on EVs)
- Check your wiper blades are clean from dirt and are in good working order
- Always drive on dipped headlights, not driving lights (Highway Code Sect 226; RVLR Regs 25 & 27)
- Remove any mud from your number plates
- Check your brakes are working properly before you set off
- Allow extra time for your journey due to the weather conditions and increased traffic
These vehicle types are becoming more common in vehicle fleets but due to their construction and operational systems. But with these vehicles, there are issues that need to be highlighted:
EV batteries do not respond well to cold weather, and this can reduce the range by 10-30 per cent until the battery is warm. This means you must charge your car for longer if you are expecting to go a certain distance, keeping at least 20% charge stored. This will in-turn keep your battery warm when it is cold outside. Where possible, keep the vehicle in a garage, especially when night temperatures go below 0C.
When it comes to braking, on slippery roads, the brake-like force to the wheels can cause a loss of grip, reducing the tyres’ ability to steer the car. Turn down or switch off the regenerative braking system to avoid slides. The regenerative system is easily switched off through the car interface (if you are unsure consult your driver’s manual). Remember to switch it back on in the spring!
With tyres, you must check they are correctly inflated. This can only be achieved by regular checking of the tyres. Remember, the low centre of gravity and weight of the batteries place greater strain on the tyres, therefore you must check these more regularly than the average petrol or diesel vehicle.
The advice and guidance provided is far from conclusive, but hopefully it will be seen as thought-provoking. Since the invention of the motor vehicle, it has always been that driving in hazardous conditions requires a skill which is not just dependent on technology but also common sense, responsibility and knowledge of the rules and regulations of driving, both on and off the road.
If you have any concerns over attending late-at-night alarm calls for your business becasue of the weather and the tricky conditions we are set to face, then do contact us today, we would be more than happy to assist you and your needs this winter.