In 2021, 13 people were killed, 356 were seriously injured and 1,781 were slightly injured in reported road collisions on Great Britain's roads when there was snow or frost/ice on the road surface.
Is driving in winter safe?
Driving in the winter is very different than at other times of the year. Adverse weather and longer periods of darkness (especially after the clocks go back at the end of October) make driving more hazardous. Sometimes conditions can be extreme, as we have found out over recent winters, 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.
Most of us have very little experience driving in extreme conditions, such as snow, so take some time to consider how it affects your driving. Don't just drive as normal and in very bad conditions, avoid driving completely, unless you absolutely have to make the journey and driving is the only option.
For general advice about driving safely in winter, you can download our leaflet ‘Winter driving tips’ from this page.
Winter driving for work
RoSPA encourages employers to have a winter driving policy for their staff who drive
for work purposes.
Do your employees have to travel?
The central question about winter driving is, do you have to travel? When conditions are not so bad as to prevent travel entirely, there are various aspects of journey planning that enable trips to be undertaken more safely. Every journey should be managed and those responsible for winter journey planning should take into account road type, hazards, traffic densities, and high-risk features such as steep hills.
How journey planning can help
Changes in the weather should be considered as part of the journey-planning process. Heeding Police advice and being situationally aware should be part of the risk assessment process. Severe weather not only disrupts the Transport Network, but it also impacts the economy, creates the potential for reputational damage for businesses and governments, and can impact people, their families, and communities where lives are lost and members of the public are injured.
It is also crucial that journey scheduling allows time for sufficient rest stops, for drivers to take
account of reasonably foreseeable weather and traffic conditions, and to comply with speed limits. Good practice is to build time into a journey, which means drivers will be less likely to rush in order to make up for any delays. It is conceivable that journey routes and scheduling might need to be altered during the winter months.
Review your emergency arrangements
Employers should review their emergency arrangements with staff so they know what to do in the event of an a collision, breakdown or getting stuck, and ensure that vehicles contain adequate equipment.
Reducing the risk
Underpin each day with a risk assessment. A safe vehicle, safe journey, and safe and healthy drivers save lives.
Reduce the risk by not making the journey when the weather is inclement. Reducing the risk reduces the potential for crashing and reduces the risk to emergency responders within a post-crash situation.
Businesses have a role to play at any time of year embedding the outcomes from risk assessments into daily practice; this exchange of knowledge and skills is life-enhancing.