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It seems appropriate now with the worsening weather that we should look to the official advice of the freight transport association for how best to stay safe when working in these conditions.

When driving in windy weather, take note of the following points:

  • Plan your journey to avoid exposed or high roads (such as motorway flyovers, bridges or viaducts) if possible.
  • Anticipate how conditions may affect other road users, especially cyclists, motorcyclists, and cars towing caravans – take particular care when overtaking these.
  • Take care when driving empty and high-sided vehicles, which will be affected more by the wind.
  • When driving an empty curtain-sided vehicle, tie both curtain sides at one end of the vehicle to reduce the effect of side winds.
  • Watch for places where conditions could suddenly change, such as a gap in the trees, or after passing some form of shelter such as a bridge or large vehicle.
  • If you have to travel on exposed roads in high winds, be prepared for lower speed limits, lane closures and diversions.

Here’s some advice for driving in snow and icy conditions:

  • Allow more time for your journey.
  • Obtain weather information before you set off and keep up to date with changing conditions and closed routes via the radio or by regularly calling into base.
  • In snowy or freezing conditions, carry in the cab:
    • a shovel
    • a couple of strong sacks (to put under the drive wheels if the vehicle becomes stuck)
    • warm clothes and a blanket
    • a torch
    • food and a warm drink in a flask
    • a road atlas
    • a mobile phone and charger
    • sunglasses (the glare from snow can be dazzling).
  • Ensure the whole of your vehicle (especially your windscreen and mirrors) is cleared of ice and snow before attempting to move off.
  • Lower your speed and keep a good distance from other vehicles – allow ten times the normal stopping distances on icy roads.
  • Allow for the fact other drivers may get into difficulties.
  • All braking must be gentle and over much longer distances, especially when driving articulated vehicles or those with a trailer attached.
  • Avoid any sudden braking, steering or acceleration.
  • Falling snow can reduce visibility dramatically, use dipped headlights and reduce your speed.
  • Road markings and traffic signs can be obscured by snow. Take extra care at junctions.
  • In prolonged periods of snow, the fixing of snow chains or snow socks to driven wheels can prove to be of value.
  • Don’t attempt to overtake a snow plough or vehicle spreading salt, unless you are sure the road is clear and the conditions allow it to be done safely.
  • When driving at night, be alert for a drop in temperature. If the steering feels light, you may be driving on ice, so ease your speed as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • If your vehicle becomes stuck in deep snow, engage the diff-lock (if one is fitted) to regain forward traction – but remember to switch it off as soon as the vehicle is moving and before attempting a turn. Alternatively, use the highest gear you can to improve traction. Then try alternating between reverse and the forward gear until forward motion is possible. Avoid continual revving in a low gear, which could lead to the drive wheel digging a deeper rut.
  • When operating independent retarders, take care when going downhill in snow. The retarders could cause the rear wheels to lock, although some retarders are managed by ABS to help avoid this problem.