Story: COLIN DAWSON
TRADESMEN and SMEs whose businesses depend on their business vans remaining mobile must ensure they are prepared for the winter weather, warns the Freight Transport Association.
In 2010 and 2011, the extreme circumstances caught out many business van operators who hadn’t made adequate preparations. In anticipation of a repeat, local authorities are building up salt stocks and buying new equipment. The Met Office is also teaming up with highway authorities to provide a service to help advise drivers in readiness for another bout of adverse winter weather. But salt only works down to -7 centrigrade so your drivers and vehicles need to be ready.
Only three years ago, an entire generation of UK drivers had never experienced driving in snow and ice.
In addition to readying drivers, it is essential to have vehicles properly prepared.
Winter tyres can help. They provide greater grip below 7 degree centigrade thanks to a different compound, and better traction and stopping distances in icy and snowy conditions. They can be the difference between getting stuck and a productive day.
When conditions really get tough, snow chains are appropriate. In many European countries carrying chains is required by law, and operators in snow prone parts of the UK know the benefits. But in most of Britain they’re unhead of. Yet a set of chains for a Transit sized van is less than £100 and can keep your vans moving and even more important, out of danger until and snowploughs and gritters get busy.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy, told Business Vans: “In 2010 and 2011, many learned that insufficient preparation can lead to lives being put at risk, people stranded for uncomfortable lengths of time, and emergency services becoming stretched.
“Being aware of approaching winter weather is vital. The highway authorities warn travellers and business van operators of how the weather will impact on the network. It is therefore up to drivers to take responsibility for what they do in such difficult periods.”
“If drivers are in the vicinity of a spreader they should back off and let it get on with its work,” Bingham said. “It will only be there for a relatively short time. Spreaders must travel at about 40mph and this means we need to slow down to let them get on with the job.”
FTA’s website www.fta.co.uk has advice for business van operators and drivers on dealing with poor weather conditions and, in addition to national and local radio, its own traffic service, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will again be providing amber and red alerts for winter weather, including snow.
Keep up to date with developments in our Business Van News section.