As the colder months edge nearer and the weather becomes windier and wetter, the number of potential hazards generally on a work site increases substantially. But for both those in control of a vehicle and those working around vehicles, risks can increase further.
In this blog, we will explore numerous ways you can prepare for incoming bad weather and be aware of safe practices when driving. It may be hot and comfortable in your vehicle, but outside heavy rain, fog and other poor driving conditions make roads dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.
It is important to change the way you drive to match the weather and all of the other measures in place to protect people.
How to Drive Safely On Site in Winter
Fog is essentially a cloud which forms closer to the ground's surface, caused by condensation and water droplets. The thickest fog tends to occur in industrial areas due to the pollution particles also in the air, so water droplets can clump together and grow. There is a good chance that the mix of construction work and vehicles in your area will mean fog is quite thick if present.
- Drive slowly and use dipped headlights
- Use fog lights if visibility is seriously reduced, but switch them off when visibility improves
- Don't drive too close behind another vehicle to follow their rear lights - this gives you a false sense of security, as any sudden stops can result in accidents
- Avoid sudden increases in speed. Fog is often patchy and you can suddenly find yourself back in thick fog
We are all used to driving in rain, and we are also used to the hazards which occur in rain. But rain on a site can be different as there may be less chance for it to get away, and there are plenty of other hazards around too.
- It can take up to twice as long to stop when roads are wet rather than dry
- Keep well back from the vehicle in front of you. This will allow you to see better, and give you more time to think and slow down accordingly
- Your tyres may lose their grip on a road that is covered with water and your vehicle will 'aquaplane'. If this happens, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Do not put your foot hard on the brake
- Spray can make it hard to see. Slow down and keep your distance from other vehicles
- Don't try to cross floods if the water seems too deep, if water gets into the engine it may cause it to fail. If you have to go through a flood, drive slowly in first gear to avoid stalling the engine. Keep the engine revs high and slip the clutch if necessary
- Avoid the deepest water, which is usually near the kerb
- After you have gone through a flood, test your brakes. Only drive on at your usual speed if the brakes are fully functional
- Dazzle from low winter sun can make driving dangerous.
- Make sure that your windscreen is completely clean.
- Wear sunglasses if they help to reduce glare.
If You Get Into Trouble
Do not use a mobile phone if you are driving. Stop somewhere safe, or ask a person with you to make the call. Using a 2 way communication device may be better.
Stay with your vehicle until help comes. If you leave your vehicle, it could get in the way of snowploughs, ambulances or other emergency services. Put on your warmest clothes and consume liquids. Do not drink alcohol, as this will make your body colder.
If you have to leave your vehicle to get help, make sure other drivers can see you and tell other people where you are going.
General Safety Tips
- Keep to the speed limit - it is there for your safety.
- Get into the correct lane in good time - don't keep switching.
- Concentrate on the road ahead, not on any nearby roadworks.
- Be alert for works traffic leaving or entering roadworks.
- Keep a safe distance - there could be queues ahead of you.
- Observe all signs - they are there to help you.
These are just some of the things that you should be aware of when driving in the autumn and winter weather and with just a little extra mindfulness of the caution needed when driving, you can ensure a safe journey.
Or if you want more information regarding vehicle safety, check out the driving resources available at the Health and Safety Executive site.
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