The Health and Safety Executive estimates that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work at the time.
Winter driving can be very different to driving at other times of the year. The clocks have gone back and the days are becoming shorter coupled with the increasing risk of adverse weather conditions.
In recent winters we have had to contend with prolonged periods of heavy snowfall and flooding. As a result drivers have been required to adapt their methods of driving to contend with variable and sometimes difficult conditions.
For those driving on business the work routine is likely to continue when weather conditions deteriorate and therefore drivers will be exposed to road related risks including icy conditions, poor visibility and strong winds.
First and foremost businesses need to ensure they include work-related road safety in their health and safety management system. This includes assessing the risks when driving on business, preparing a policy to explain how the risks identified are actually managed and detailing roles and responsibilities. Seeking senior management support will help to manage the risks effectively.
One of the key risks for those driving on business will be adverse weather conditions which can change or deteriorate unexpectedly. Businesses need to ensure they have procedures in place to consider cancelling or postponing journeys when conditions are bad. As the weather can change rapidly, monitoring and changing plans should be factored into managing the risks for those driving. Consider using other means of transport or use alternative tools such as video conferencing, phone or email.
If deciding that driving remains essential both employers and employees need to consider the following to ensure all appropriate measures have been taken to minimize the risks.
Plan your journey thoroughly in advance, know the route you will be taking.
Ensure the vehicle is well maintained with sufficient tyre grip.
Inform someone you know where you are going and your estimated time of arrival.
Allow as much time as possible for your journey and unexpected delays.
Plan alternative routes incase roads become blocked.
Ensure your mobile is fully charged and keep a charger in the car.
Carry an emergency kit including a warm coat, boots, torch and a bottle of water.
Keep your fuel tank close to full.
Clear windows of snow and ice and demist fully before setting out.
Top up your windscreen wash and and include antifreeze
Monitor weather forecasts before leaving.
Plan your work-related driving policy and guidance in advance, rather than leaving it until the bad weather arrives. Tips provided by motoring organisations for driving in different weather conditions can be found online.