Winter brings new challenges when driving a heavy vehicle. Remember, it does not matter the condition of the road or the weather, it is wise to always take caution. As such, when driving in winter, you have to make sure that you have the right equipment for every possible situation. Make sure you have carried the following items: –
• Jump leads
• Shovel and a bag of salt or sand
• Ice scraper and de-icer
• A highly visible jacket
• Water and food
• Extra warm clothes and blanket
Do not forget to carry with you extra fuel (at least half a tank) for the journey. You never know, you may spend more time on the road than you planned.
II) Vehicle Inspection
It is highly important to always inspect your vehicle at every opportunity you get. This means that you should inspect your vehicle before starting the journey, after taking a break, and after reaching your destination. During winter, we recommend that you pay attention to the following: –
• Battery – charging system and power
• Fluids – top them up if needed
• Tyres – balance, pressure, and wear
• Windscreen wipers – are they working as needed and free from snow and ice
• Defrosters – are they working as needed
• Exhaust – is it clear of snow
• Lights – are all of them working properly
Carrying a daily paper-based checklist for your walk-around can be harder when it is cold. This is why we are recommending you make the switch to an electronic form app. This prevents the risk of damaging the paperwork or dealing with illegible handwriting.
III) Check The Weather Condition
Always keep yourself updated with the latest weather information. Take note of any changing conditions and closed routes. Many apps can help keep you informed; a good example is your GPS. Radio, calling to base, and talking to other HGV drivers are other ways you can gain information.
Telematics is a great way of knowing where the drivers are, the routes they are taking, and an opportunity to find for them an alternative safer route. Most of this should have been taught to you when you were training for your c1 licence.
IV) Caution When Driving
Driving in winter demands a lot of cation. That is because any sudden sharp movement will make you lose control. As such, to prevent winter-related accidents, a driver must: –
• Be consistent – maintain a steady speed and go easy on the brakes
• Leave extra space – when driving, it is wise to maintain or leave extra space for stopping. That is because the stop distance is longer in snow or ice. Observing this will help you eliminate the chance of an accident occurring.
• Slow down – since in ice or snow the stopping distance is longer, it is wise to counter this by driving slow. A majority of the accidents occur simply because the driver was driving too fast.
V) Know The Rules
HGV drivers have rules they must observe when changing lanes for every road condition. During winter, the driver must use four or five blinkers and then move over slowly into the next lane. The driver should not feel the need to match the speed of other drivers.
If there are caution signs on the road, the driver must hold their speed and use hazard lights. This sign tells other road users that they are going slower.
VI) Mindful Of Hazards
There is no doubt driving an HGV in winter is challenging. Although this is the case, a driver should always look for particular hazards like: –
• Fog – A heavy thick fog limits visibility. In such a situation, a driver must use their lights and slow down. You must never feel pressured into traveling faster than you are comfortable with.
• Black Ice – This is a dangerous road condition. Black ice is thin layers of transparent ice often that look like the road is slightly wet. How do you identify black ice? Well, its signs include, the build-up of ice on your vehicle (mirror arms, antennae, or top corners of the windshield) and lack of water spray from the vehicle ahead of you.