Are you Winter wary or weary?

As the severe Winter weather continues – life, and work, must go on, it’s important that drivers do so in safety despite the persistant rain, snow, ice and high winds.

With that in mind Fiat Professional has teamed up with leading road safety advisor Paul Ripley, CEO, The Driving Doctor (TDD) to issue a Top 10 list of winter driving tips to help commercial vehicle drivers stay safe in poor weather. 

Match speed to conditions

Common sense tells us this is a key safe driving requirement in winter. Your overall safety and survival is enhanced by slowing down and using higher gears to aid traction when necessary.

Skidding

Too much speed on a slippery surface may result in a skid but with the traction support systems this is easily managed by coming off the accelerator. Generally, this will remove the cause.

Aquaplaning

Look for standing surface water and slow down on approach if you can. When aquaplaning, braking has no effect so come off the accelerator, hold the steering wheel tightly and when grip returns, point your wheels in the right direction.

Driving on ice

In this situation, the steering feels light. If you slide at 16kp/h (10mph) then try to drive at say 6kp/h (4mph). Where possible, use engine braking. The correct use of very low speed is crucial. 

Maintaining traction

4x4s offer far better grip in snow conditions but it doesn’t make drivers invincible. Respect the need to maintain traction and control by always ensuring a safe speed. 

Braking distances

Braking distances in snow or ice conditions can be far greater than anticipated so extend separation distances greatly. If practical and possible, use engine braking to lose speed smoothly. 

Are the roads icy?

If you’ve had to scrape ice from your vehicle then it’s fair to assume the roads will be in the same condition. Always link ice to lower road speeds. 

Smooth is safer

Never snatch the steering or make abrupt use of the brakes or accelerator – be smooth and gentle with the vehicle’s controls. 

ABS brakes on ice

Be aware that using ABS on slick ice / packed snow doesn’t offer the same stopping advantages. Consider using engine braking and always brake much earlier in such treacherous conditions.

Too close for comfort?

To aid safety on wet winter roads, increase following distances by at least twice what is normal and in snow and ice conditions, by at least 10 times. Always try to create a cocoon of safe space.