Winter driving can be hazardous and scary, especially in northern regions that get a lot of snow and ice. Additional preparations can help make a trip safer, or help motorists deal with an emergency. Use the safety information provided below to help your employees prevent motor vehicle injuries due to winter storms.
The Three P's of Safe Winter Driving:
- PREPARE for the trip
- PROTECT yourself
- PREVENT crashes on the road
Maintain Your Car: Check battery, tire tread, and windshield wipers, keep your windows clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and check your antifreeze.
Have On Hand: flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares) and blankets. For long trips, add food and water, medication and cell phone.
Stopped or Stalled? Stay with your car, don't over exert, put bright markers on antenna or windows and shine dome light, and, if you run your car, clear exhaust pipe and run it just enough to stay warm.
Plan Your Route: Allow plenty of time (check the weather and leave early if necessary), be familiar with the maps/ directions, and let others know your route and arrival time.
Practice Cold Weather Driving!
- During daylight, rehearse maneuver slowly on the ice or snow in an empty lot
- Steer into a skid
- Know what your brakes will do: stomp on antilock brakes, pump non-antilock brakes
- Stopping distances are longer on water covered ice and ice
- Don't idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space
» PROTECT YOURSELF
- Buckle up and use child safety seats properly
- Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag
- Children 12 and under are much safer in the back seat
» PREVENT CRASHES
- Never mix drug and alcohol while driving
- Slow down and increase distances between cars
- Keep your eyes open for pedestrians walking on the road
- Avoid fatigue – Get plenty of rest before the trip, stop at least every three hours, and rotate drivers if possible
- If you are planning to drink, designate a sober driver
Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers: recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, for example, driving on snow/ice covered roads; are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles they operate.
Employers should set and enforce driver safety policies. Employers should also implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate. Crashes can be avoided.
Employers should ensure properly trained workers' inspect the following vehicle systems to determine if they are working properly:
- Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.
- Cooling System: Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.
- Electrical System: Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.
- Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
- Exhaust System: Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.
- Tires: Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear. Check for proper tire inflation.
- Oil: Check that oil is at proper level.
- Visibility Systems: Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.
An emergency kit with the following items is recommended in vehicles:
- Cellphone or two-way radio
- Windshield ice scraper
- Snow brush
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Tow chain
- Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)
- Emergency flares
- Jumper cables
- Road maps
- Blankets, change of clothes
This article originally appeared in the winter issue of Arbill’s Safer Every Day digital magazine. For more tips and suggestions for winter safety, click here to read the entire issue.
Have a Safe Day!