Driving for Work In Winter

In adverse weather the hazards associated with driving for work increase greatly. In winter especially, darker, shorter days and bad weather such as rain, hail, fog or snow reduce visibility. High winds, ice and slush can make vehicle control more difficult. Winter sun tends to be low and can cause glare.

Employers should review their company’s driving for work risk management policy to ensure driving in adverse weather is properly covered. Ask yourself:

  • Is driving in adverse weather conditions considered?
  • Who is responsible for telling employees what is expected of them?
  • Are appropriate systems in place for employees who have to drive for work in adverse weather conditions?
  • Do employees know how to handle vehicles [company provided or their own] in adverse weather conditions?
  • Are employees’ familiar with the vehicle manual and any specific advice provided for driving in poor weather conditions?
  • Do you need to consider providing additional driver training for those who drive for work?
  • Is there a plan in place for employees in the event of emergencies such as a collision, breakdown or getting stuck/stranded in snow?

Remember, where possible in adverse weather conditions:

  • Limit travel as far as possible to essential journeys only – ask yourself is the trip necessary?

For those with no option but to drive:

  • Listen to weather forecasts, travel bulletins and any advice issued by An Garda Síochána [www.garda.ie]  or the Road Safety Authority [www.rsa.ie]. Change or delay your journey as appropriate.
  • Plan you journey, stick to major routes where possible. Allow extra time for your journey.
  • Inform someone such as your employer, manager or supervisor where you are going and your estimated arrival time so that an alarm can be raised if you fail to arrive. 
  • Turn your lights on to ensure that your vehicle is visible to other road users.
  • Fill your washer bottle with windscreen wash. The concentration used should be appropriate for the weather conditions.
  • Reduce your speed and drive according to the road and weather conditions, maintain greater stopping distances (double in wet weather and ten times greater in icy weather).
  • Wear sunglasses (prescription glasses if required) if the sun is low.
  • Avoid harsh braking or acceleration. Carry out any manoeuvres slowly and carefully.
  • Never feel pressurised to complete a journey if weather conditions are too dangerous.

Ensure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition prior to driving. Check that:

  • Tyres are in good conditions and inflated to the correct pressure (including the spare).
  • The vehicle has plenty of fuel.
  • Wipers, defrosters and lights are in good working order.
  • An ice-scraper or de-icer is available for ice or snow.

Carry an emergency kit in your vehicle containing items such as:

  • A high visibility, reflective jacket or vest in the vehicle cab (so that you can put it on before you leave the vehicle).
  • A torch with extra batteries.
  • An emergency warning triangle.
  • A mobile phone – for use only when parked.

In cases where travel is unavoidable in extreme weather conditions, consider carrying items such as:

  • Warm clothing including hat, gloves and a warm blanket or sleeping bag.
  • Boots.
  • Food and a warm drink in a flask.
  • Shovel and material for providing wheel traction if driving on soft ground or snow (such as chains, old carpet, sand, gravel, cat litter or salt).

For further information see the Road Safety Authority's Safety Tips for Severe Weather Conditions.