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Winter driving
You can't control the weather, but you can plan for it

BRADLEY Wiggins’ accident was a timely reminder of the perils of being on the road at this time of the year.

The accident rate invariably takes a sharp rise in November.

Cyclists, pedestrians and motor-cyclists bear the brunt according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, being so much more difficult to see when it’s wet and dark. But the damage is done by vans, cars and trucks. If you’re a business van manager, remind your drivers they must take care. If you drive – well, you get the message.

Less serious, but a huge cost to business, are the problems of keeping your business vans moving.

So while some of this is a bit Nanny Knows Best, You Know it Makes Sense:

  • Van batteries take a hammering at the best of times, particularly if your business involves deliveries. In winter, it’s worse. Get it checked, especially if it’s a couple of years old.
  • In the morning, switch off anything electrical before you try to start the engine. Diesels in particular like the decent spin you only get with a good belt of charge from the battery.
  • Fill the screen washer with the proper winter stuff. Even if it isn’t frozen in the jets it can freeze when it hits a cold screen, leaving you blinded.
  • Give all the windows a good clean, inside and out. Dirty windows mist up much quicker, and are much more affected by the dazzle from headlights, or the winter sun. And don’t use your hand to wipe the screen! The greasy marks you leave behind only make matters worse.
  • If there’s been a fall of snow, don’t just clear the screen, clear the bonnet and the roof to stop it blowing back onto you and the traffic behind. Give trucks covered in snow an extra wide berth for the same reason.
  • Pack a cold-weather kit – high viz jacket, de-icer, scraper, torch, boots and a shovel. And a blanket and something to eat a drink if there’s a risk of snow.
  • Likewise, if you take medication, take it with you.
  • Make sure you’re phone’s got a full charge if your van doesn’t have a charger, and check that you’ve got any phone numbers and breakdown service cards.
  • Consider winter tyres and snow chains, especially if you operate out in the country. A set of chains for a van will be less than £100 and could save you a fortune in lost business.

And finally, know your blackspots. Every area has its hills and dips that are the first to close in those chaotic hours after the snow falls and before the snow-ploughs get round. It’s good business van management to make sure your drivers know where they are, and to have alternative routes for when the going gets tough. Or slippery.

Thanks go to the Institute of Advanced Motorists for help with this article.




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