Driving in the snow and ice puts fear on many people. However, HGV drivers don’t have the luxury of delaying journeys when the cold sets in. Recent statistics reveal that on average, 22% of all UK road accidents are caused by bad weather, with 11% of those accidents caused by high speed. Winter temperatures have truly started to hit, and snow is once again on the horizon, here are Mac’s Trucks tips for driving in the snow. With our advice and guidance on how to drive in icy conditions and what you should do when driving in heavy snow.
Winter Driving Tips
The most important aspect for any driver taking to the roads in sub-zero conditions is to be prepared. The British weather can change at the drop of a hat. One minute it could be clear and sunny, the next we could be under a blanket of snow. Our advice is to always listen to the weather forecast and plan for the worst. The Met Office should be the first place to check for alerts followed by a route planner.
Before you set out plan your route in advance to know if your destination is experiencing heavy snowfall. Or you might have to drive through an area that’s been badly hit by icy conditions. Avoid areas with steep hills as driving uphill in snow can be treacherous and stay away from the B roads as they may not have been treated.
Have A Survival Kit
During the cold winter months, there is always a high risk of being stranded. The media often reports about drivers being stuck in the snow overnight due to a string of accidents or the roads not being gritted properly. It frequently happens in this country. Make sure you are ready for anything, including the following items:
- Blankets and warm clothes
- Hazard triangle
- First aid kit
- Food and drink
- Mobile phone
- Phone charger
- Hi-Vis jacket
- De-icer and scraper
Use Your Gears
When pulling off on the ice always use a higher gear to give your vehicle the traction needed to get moving. The last thing you want to do while behind a 32,000kg, 8 x 2 Beavertail DAF truck is for your wheels to start spinning. Then ensure you stay in as high a gear as possible when driving in the snow to ensure your vehicle keeps momentum.
The best way to drive in snow is to reduce your speed, maintain a safe distance from those ahead of you, and stay alert. The road may look fine, but the threat of black ice may rear its ugly head at any time – and when that happens the consequences could be devastating. Take your foot off the gas. This will improve your braking time if the traffic ahead suddenly draws to a halt and reduce the amount of damage caused if an accident is unavoidable.
Keep Your Distance
According to the Highway Code, the stopping distance in wet conditions is twice the required for stopping on dry roads. However, in icy conditions, this can be almost ten times that. At 70mph, a passenger vehicle would normally take around 315 feet to stop completely. However, in an HGV vehicle, this would take approximately 409 feet before being able to fully stop.
As well as keeping your distance you need to ensure you are mindful of other drivers around you, remaining alert. Avoid sudden braking or accelerating and if you do feel your vehicle skidding on the ice, take your foot off the pedal and steer into the skid. When approaching junctions and slowing down, go down the gears and pump the brakes, do not slam them on. If you spot a motorist getting into difficulties, put your hazards on to warn other drivers to be careful. Lastly, if you are driving in heavy snow, dip your lights to make your visibility clear.
Use Good Judgment
Ultimately, the most important advice we can give is to use good judgment and stay safe. If the weather is too dangerous, you should find a place to get off the road safely. Watch out for the yellow, amber, and red weather warnings and if the authorities are urging you to stay off the road, listen to them. Let the authorities clear the roads and resume your duties when the conditions have improved.