The benefits of managing work-related driving can be considerable. The true cost of accidents on the road are nearly always higher than just the cost of repairs and insurance claims. The promotion of sound health and safety driving practices and a good safety culture at work may well overspill into private driving, which could reduce the chances of staff and their family and friends being injured in a crash outside of work.
Star Refrigeration has conducted a risk assessment on the hazards of driving at work and has developed a number of procedures to control these hazards. Employees also have a duty to ensure that they do not put themselves or others at risk whilst driving at work. To this end the following guidance taken from Government and some of the leading road transport safety groups should be followed.
DEFECTS SUCH AS WORN TYRES AND BLOWN LIGHT BULBS ARE COMMON AND CONTRIBUTE TO ACCIDENTS
To ensure your vehicle is always safe, you can’t rely on the annual MOT or service. You must carry out essential, regular and easy checks yourself.
• To check your tyre tread, look for ‘tread wear indicator bars’ on your tyres. These are small bumps set into the main grooves which indicate the minimum legal tread. Change your tyres before your tread gets this low. The minimum legal tread is 1.6mm, but any less than about 3mm may be a problem in wet or icy conditions.
• Buy a hand-held tyre pressure gauge from a motor-parts store and check your tyres’ pressure every week when tyres are cold. The correct pressure will be written in your vehicle’s handbook and sometimes on the inside of your vehicle’s door.
• Check tyres for cracks, worn patches and bulges. If you find any, consult your garage immediately.
• Also regularly check your lights are clean and bulbs aren’t blown (ask a friend to help), your oil and water levels are ok, and your wiper blades aren’t worn.
CARRYING TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT IN CARS
To prevent tools and equipment causing injury during a collision they must be carried behind the rear seat back of estate cars and in the boot of saloons. Where provided, the load bay cover should be in place.
When larger items need to be carried which require the rear seat back to be lowered the load must be adequately secured or an alternative means of transport must be arranged such as the use of a trailer or hire of a suitable van.
Your eyesight can deteriorate without you knowing it. When did you last have your eyes tested?
• It’s recommended that you get a test at least every two years, even if you think you have perfect eyesight. This applies to all ages, but is particularly Important if you are over 50.
• If you wear glasses or lenses, never drive without them.
• Keep a spare pair in your vehicle if you’re forgetful.
Deaths are caused by drivers failing to concentrate because they are stressed, ‘switch off’ for a second or are thinking about other things Deaths are caused by lapses of attention, such as answering a phone, reaching for a sweet or changing a CD. Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do. It requires full concentration.
• Focus on your driving and the hazards ahead. Tell passengers to ‘shhh’ if necessary.
• Drive calmly, and try not to get ‘worked up’ by other drivers. Stress is an illness and can damage your health.
• If you feel distracted, or need to reach for something in the vehicle, you probably need a break. Stop as soon as it is safe to do so.
• Inform your manager if you have any medical condition or injury that may affect your ability to drive safely.
- If you’ve drunk five pints, how long until you’re safe to drive
- It depends (on the strength of the beer, your weight, sex, metabolism and other factors). If you're an 11-stone man and finished drinking at midnight, you might be under the limit by midday. However, you’re still likely to have alcohol in your system that could affect your driving.
• Drinking coffee, sleeping, or having a shower don’t sober you up. Only time.
• Never drive if there’s even a slim chance you are still ‘under the influence’. That means medicinal and illegal drugs as well as alcohol.
• Illegal drugs can stay in your system for a month.
• Never drive on medicinal drugs if it says you shouldn’t on the packet. Check with your GP or pharmacist if you’re not sure.
• Never drive on illegal drugs. Their effects are unpredictable and just as lethal.
Never use a hand-held mobile phone while driving
• Put your phone on to message service.
• Stop for messages and a break at least every two hours on long journeys.
• Avoid the use of hands-free phones while driving. It can be just as distracting as hand-held.
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY
Make the best use of your time, reduce stress and the temptation to speed – by working out in advance where you are going and the best route to get you there. If you have a sat-nav device programme it before you set off, always have a map with you as well but don't read a map or call the depot for directions on a mobile phone while you are driving.
SLOW DOWN in towns and villages
Most drivers break speed limits in towns and villages. We don’t notice our speed creeping up, we feel pressured by other drivers to go faster, we’re in a rush, or we think it doesn’t matter.
• Breaking limits by only a little can be fatal. It’s crucial to obey speed limits and drive appropriately in built-up areas.
• Watch for limits. Check your speedo.
• Never rush. Ring ahead if you’re late and take it easy.
SLOW DOWN on rural roads
On many derestricted rural roads, the 60mph limit is far too fast for safety. Fatal high-speed collisions with other vehicles, and single vehicle collisions with trees and walls, are often caused by taking bends too fast or by overtaking in dangerous places. Drivers also kill cyclists, horse riders and walkers on rural roads. These road users are particularly vulnerable when hidden round bends, or at night.
• Go very slow for sharp bends. Presume a bend is sharp if you don’t know. Never ‘straight line’ a bend. If you can’t follow the shape of the bend you may well be driving too fast.
• Only overtake if you are 100% certain the road is clear and you can overtake within that distance without going too fast for the conditions or breaking the limit.
Staff will not be disciplined for arriving late due to traffic conditions providing you had allowed enough time for the journey and had set off in time so as to avoid the need for speeding.
Give yourself braking space. You need it in a crisis
Count the seconds between you and the vehicle in front.
• Watch when the vehicle in front passes a static object (eg. tree) and see how long it takes for you to drive past it.
If you’re any closer than 2 seconds, drop back.
• Dropping back helps you to spot hazards and drive more smoothly.
• When other drivers cut in front, drop back again.
'Only a fool breaks the two-second rule.’
• The rule works at all speeds, not just on motorways.
REDUCE JOURNEYS & MILEAGE
Where possible eliminate or reduce journeys and mileage.
• If you are driving to and from meetings by car consider if the meeting’s goal can be achieved by using remote communications such as telephone, email or video-conferencing.
• Consider the use of public transport.
• Car share where possible.
• Stay overnight where repeat visits to a distant site are required.
• Can plant faults be reset or interrogated remotely or can driving to site to rectify faults be delayed until morning or better weather conditions?
CHECKED THE POSITION OF YOUR HEAD RESTRAINT RECENTLY? YOU COULD BE RISKING A BROKEN NECK
• The top of it should be no lower than the top of your ears.
• Straighten your seat so the head restraint is just behind your head.TIRED DRIVERS ARE LETHAL
It’s very tempting to risk it, but research shows that if you drive when shattered, it’s impossible to stop yourself eventually nodding off at the wheel.
• Never drive if you feel shattered. (If you are facing a long drive home at the end of the working day and feel too tired to drive book into a local hotel (Star will pay)
• Get enough sleep before a long drive.
• Take a break every two hours. Account for these breaks when planning your journey time.
• Stop sooner if you feel tired.
• Winding down the window or turning up music may help in the short term while finding a safe place to pull up.
When you stop, follow this advice.
• Stop for at least 15 minutes
• If you feel tired when you stop, academics recommend you drink coffee or an energy drink with caffeine in it. Then try to snooze for ten minutes or so in your vehicle. Set the alarm clock in your mobile phone. By the time you wake up, the caffeine will have kicked-in.
• If you’re worried about personal security while you snooze, park in a busy, well-lit area, such as near the main doors of motorway services. Lock doors and hide valuables. When you feel alert again, drive on. If not, stay put. BREAKDOWN
If you break down and can’t get your vehicle off the road, try to come to a gradual stop where other drivers can see you from far away. Put on your hazard lights. Display a warning triangle if you have one at least 45 metres behind your car (but don’t do this on a motorway - it’s dangerous). Call your breakdown rescue service (e.g. AA, RAC).
IF YOU BREAK DOWN ON A MOTORWAY
If there is a verge, leave your vehicle by the passenger door. Call for emergency rescue from a motorway phone or your mobile if there is no phone nearby. Wait for help on the verge, not in your vehicle.
DON’T TRY TO REPAIR YOUR
If your vehicle catches fire
• If possible leave it in a safe place
• Get out
• Get all the occupants out
• Call the Fire Service
• Always try to travel on main or well-used roads.
• If traveling after dark make sure someone knows your destination, estimated time of arrival and your planned route
• Keep doors locked in towns. Unlock on open roads as in the event of an accident it is easier for a rescuer to get into the car.
• Park in well lit areas. If in a multi-storey car park, try and find a space near the exit.
• Never put possessions on the passenger seat when traveling in town. They may be snatched at traffic lights.
• If you are a woman driver try not to advertise the fact. Put spare shoes, bags etc. in the boot before vacating the car
• Always lock your car. When returning, enter the car swiftly.
• If your car starts to “play-up” stop in a well-lit area, near a phone box or a well used area.
• NEVER give lifts to strangers
• Consider installing a car-phone if you do a lot of driving, particularly at night.
• Ensure that you have charged your mobile phone before setting off on your journey.
What to do if,
- You see someone in difficulty, an accident, someone tries to flag you down or another incident.
Think first. Is it genuine, can you help?
It might be safer to continue and report what you have seen at the next telephone or nearest police station.
- You are being followed
Try these counter measures –
Keep calm, pull into the left hand lane and slow down. Ignore the follower, chances are they’ll get bored and drive past. Don’t make eye contact.
If they persist
Don’t go home, make sure all your windows are closed and doors locked, drive to a busy, well-lit public place, a police station, garage forecourt or similar place.
- You are forced to stop
Try to keep your engine running, don’t try to ram the other vehicle as you will probably stall and be unable to get away. If the driver leaves the car and approaches you, check that there is enough space behind to reverse into and accelerate away, sounding your horn and activating your hazard lights. If there is no room to maneuver make sure all windows and doors are locked and look around for something to protect yourself with. It is illegal to carry weapons in this country, but there are many everyday items that can be used to defend yourself, e.g. hairspray, shoes, bunch of keys etc. Continue to sound horn and lights.
DRIVING IN BAD WEATHER
BEFORE YOU SET OFF:
• Consider whether your journey is necessary – the best way to stay safe in bad weather is to stay off the roads and use alternative means of travel.
• Check forecasts and traffic news – both local and national. You can check the Met Office website for warnings of hazardous conditions.
• Consider your route – bear in mind that some types of road are particularly dangerous in certain conditions. For example, steep country roads are treacherous in icy weather and some roads are more susceptible to flooding and strong side winds than others.
• Check tyres – tread depth should be at least 3mm to be safe in wet or icy conditions and tyres should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer.
• Check lights and wipers – ensure they are fully functioning.
• Clean windscreen, windows and mirrors – ensure they are totally clear of snow, ice or steam.
• Use additives – add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer fluid.
• Plan your journey – try to stick to major routes, give yourself plenty of time and allow for possible hold-ups.
• Inform someone – of your intended route and time of arrival.
• Ensure you’re fit to drive – it’s crucial to ensure that your driving is not impaired by drink, drugs, medicine, stress, tiredness or a distraction like a mobile phone at any time of year, but you especially need to be focused and fit to drive in adverse conditions.
• Check your emergency kit – ensure your vehicle is properly stocked. You should consider carrying the following items:
• Ice-scraper and de-icer
• High-visibility vest
• Warning triangle
• Mobile phone – for use only when parked
• Blanket, warm clothes and boots
• Food and drink
• First-aid kit
• Spade if driving in snow
In addition to the above, make sure your vehicle is properly serviced and well maintained. This is important all year round, but especially so in winter. Remember that prevention is better than cure.
• Where weather conditions are exceptionally difficult do not press on regardless, try to inform your manager that you have stopped so that they can explain to the client. Try to find local accommodation at Star’s expense.
BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR DRIVING IN BAD WEATHER
• Slow right down – if visibility is poor or the road is wet or icy, it will take you longer to react to hazards and your speed should be reduced accordingly. If you have a temperature gauge in your vehicle pay attention to what it is telling you.
• Maintain a safe gap behind the vehicle in front – stopping distances are double in the wet and ten times greater in icy weather. The gap between you and the vehicle in front is your braking space in a crisis.
• Look out for vulnerable road users – be aware that people on foot, bicycles, motorbikes and horses are harder to spot in adverse weather and in the dark. Drive as though someone could step out in front of you at any time.
• Look out for signs warning of adverse conditions – including fixed signs, such as those warning of exposure to high-winds, and variable message signs on motorways that warn of fog, snow and which may display temporary slower speed limits.
• Stay in control – avoid harsh braking and acceleration and carry out manoeuvres slowly and with extra care.
• Use lights – put lights on in gloomy weather, when visibility is reduced. Use front and rear fog lights in dense fog.
DRIVING IN SPECIFIC CONDITIONS
Snow, ice and slush
• If you are caught in these conditions, slow right down.
• Make sure the windscreen and back and side windows are thoroughly de-iced on the outside and de-steamed on the inside before setting off – don’t simply clear a ‘porthole’ to look through
• If snow or hail is falling, use wipers to keep the windscreen clear.
• Maintain at least a 10-second gap between you and the vehicle in front. It takes 10 times further to stop in icy conditions than on a dry road.
• Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin, but taking care not to let your speed creep up.
• Brake gently to avoid locking the wheels. Get into a low gear earlier than normal and allow the speed of the vehicle to fall gradually.
• Take corners very slowly and steer gently and steadily, rather than with jerky movements, to avoid skidding.
• Never brake if the vehicle skids, instead, ease off the accelerator and steer slightly into the direction of the skid until you gain control.
Rain and flooding
• Keep well back from the vehicle in front as the rain and spray from other vehicles makes it difficult to see and be seen.
• Look out for steering becoming unresponsive, which can happen if water prevents the tyres from gripping. If this occurs, ease off the accelerator and gradually slow down. If possible, pull over somewhere safe until the rain stops and the water drains away.
• Never attempt to cross a flooded road if you are unsure how deep it is – only cross if you can see the road through the water. Apart from potential damage, many vehicles require only two feet of water before they float.
• If driving through a flooded road, stay in first gear with the engine speed high and drive very slowly. Do not drive through floodwater if a vehicle is driving in the opposite direction.
• If possible drive in the middle of the road to avoid deeper water near the kerb.
• Test brakes immediately after driving through floodwater by driving slowly over a flat surface and pressing the brakes gently. Warn passengers first.
• Use dipped headlights, or if visibility is seriously reduced (if you cannot see more than 100 metres/ 328 feet), use fog lights. Remember to switch off fog lights when visibility improves.
• Never hang on someone else’s taillights. This can provide a false sense of security and mean you’re not fully focussed on the road.
• Never speed up suddenly if fog seems to have cleared – fog can be patchy and you may suddenly re-enter it.
• Take extra care when passing over bridges or along open stretches of road exposed to strong winds. If your vehicle is being blown about, slow right down and maintain a steady course.
• Keep well back from motorbikes or cars overtaking a high-sided vehicle as they can be affected by turbulence. Winter sun
• Dazzle from winter sun can be dangerous. Keep a pair of sunglasses (prescription if needed) in the vehicle all year round and make sure you keep your windscreen clean. Wear your sunglasses in bright sunshine, especially if the sun is low or reflecting off a wet road.
BREAKDOWN AND EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
What to do if stranded in severe weather:
• If stuck in snow, do not spin the wheels/ rev the vehicle, as this will dig the vehicle further into the snow. Instead, put the vehicle into as high a gear as possible and slowly manoeuvre the vehicle lightly forwards and backwards to gently creep out of the snow.
• If you are stuck fast, stay in the car unless help is visible within 100 yards.
• Do not abandon your vehicle as this can hold up rescue vehicles and snowploughs. To ensure that the road is cleared as quickly as possible, stay with your vehicle until help arrives.
• Keep warm by running the engine and heater every ten minutes.
• Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a downwind window for ventilation.
• If stranded for a long period, keep moving to maintain circulation, but avoid over-exertion as cold weather puts added strain on the heart. Shovelling snow or pushing a car in deep snow should be avoided.If stranded for a long period, keep moving to maintain circulation, but avoid over-exertion as cold weather puts added strain on the heart. Shovelling snow or pushing a car in deep snow should be avoided.