As part of our ongoing programme to ensure that all MSL engineers are fully up to date with H&S legislation and best work practice. We hold monthly Toolbox Talks (“TBT”), where health and safety information is discussed, and van & toolbox checks are carried out – this way ensuring, for example, ladders remain safe, electrical devices are tested regularly etc…
In October’s toolbox talks there was discussion on the following points:
How to deal with adverse weather conditions whilst driving.
Drivers rightly think things like poor lane discipline (e.g. not getting into the right lane before a turn-off or roundabout, or failing to keep to the left when not overtaking on motorways and dual carriageways), failure to signal and driving too close are examples of poor driving.
However, some people are reluctant to accept that driving too fast is also poor driving. But it is – breaking the speed limit, or driving too fast for the conditions on the road, contributes to hundreds of deaths and injuries every year.
Inappropriate speed is too fast
You don’t have to be driving over the speed limit to be driving too fast.
“Inappropriate speed” means driving within the speed limit, but too fast for the road and traffic conditions. It includes approaching a bend or junction too fast, not negotiating narrow roads properly and overtaking where it’s inappropriate.
Inappropriate speed can also be a factor in poor weather conditions and when driving at night. Choosing the appropriate speed is about judgement, most people think they get it right. Sadly, the statistics show many get it wrong.
The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed irrespective of conditions. Driving at speeds too fast for the road and traffic conditions is dangerous.
You should always reduce your speed when:
- the road layout or condition presents hazards, such as bends
- sharing the road with pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, particularly children, and motorcyclists
- weather conditions make it safer to do so
- driving at night as it is more difficult to see other road users
Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. You should:
- leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance (see Typical Stopping Distances below)
- allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced. The gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads
- remember, large vehicles and motorcycles need a greater distance to stop. If driving a large vehicle in a tunnel, you should allow a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front
- if you have to stop in a tunnel, leave at least a 5-metre gap between you and the vehicle in front
MSL have fitted speed limiters to our fleet of vehicles, restricting the top speed to 68 miles per hour.
At 80mph a van uses 20% more fuel than at 68mph. That means that if your van does 1,000 miles in a week and uses fuel at 30 miles per gallon, we are wasting £1,561 per year per vehicle. Add to that higher maintenance bills from all the mis-use; foot-heavy drivers are a serious drain to company profits.
What are the benefits to fitting speed limiters?
- Major fuel savings
- Less emissions ~ better for the environment in line with our commitment to 14001
- Reduced service costs
- Better vehicle insurance premiums
- Less pressure on engineers to get from A to B – driving at high speeds for long periods can be very stressful
- Better for public image
- If fitted you will need to approach your driving in a different way and driver training will be provided if the need is identified.
Driving in the winter is very different than in other times of the year. Adverse weather and longer periods of darkness makes driving more hazardous. Sometimes conditions can be extreme with prolonged periods of heavy snow and floods.
Different weather conditions create different hazards throughout the winter and in different areas of the country at different times. A single journey may take us into very different weather, road and traffic conditions, so we need to be prepared for each one. This means that we need to adapt the way we drive to the conditions.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Before each journey carry out these checks.
- Lights are clean and working
- Battery is fully charged
- Windscreen, wiper blades and other windows are clean and the washer bottle filled with screen wash
- Tyre condition, tread depth and pressure (of all the tyres, including the spare)
- Brakes are working well
- Fluids are kept topped up, especially windscreen wash (to the correct concentration to prevent it freezing), anti-freeze and oil
When extreme weather is possible, keep an emergency kit in your car, especially if you’re going on a long journey. If this seems unnecessary, take a moment to imagine yourself stranded in your car overnight, due to a snow storm or floods. How would you stay warm? What would you eat and drink? If you must drive in these conditions, we recommend that you carry:
- Tow rope and shovel
- Warm clothes, a blanket and Wellington boots
- A hazard warning triangle
- De-icing equipment
- First aid kit (in good order)
- A working torch
- Emergency Rations (inc hot drink in a flask – non-alcoholic, of course)
- Mobile Phone (fully charged)