you make a living doing courier jobs, when
winter rolls around, as it does every year without fail, it’s an important time
to take stock and review your driving behaviour. Wintery roads require a different
kind of driving skills and, particularly when you’re out there for long periods
of time, you really can’t be too careful.
a few rules to live by, to keep you safe on the roads in the winter while doing
your courier jobs:
- Keep your distance: Allow at least four times
the recommended stopping distance from the vehicle in front on a snowy
road. You could leave as much as ten times the normal stopping distance so
you are not relying on your brakes to be able to stop.
- Plan your journey: Allow more time for
your courier jobs and plan to use busier roads, as they are more likely to
have been gritted. Try to avoid quiet country lanes, as they’re unlikely
to have been cleared, and if you do get lost or stuck, you might end up
out of signal and struggle to summon help.
- Check the forecast: Obtain weather
information before you set off on your day’s courier jobs. Keep up to date
with changing conditions and closed routes via the radio or by regularly
calling into base.
- Check your vehicle: Put your vehicle
through a pre-winter check to flag up any potential problems. Winter
driving places extra demands on your van, and certain aspects become more
crucial than ever. A simple check of lights, fluid levels, tyre tread
depths and pressures might reveal issues. If your wiper blades are worn,
make sure they’re changed to avoid smear, and top up your screen wash.
Don’t forget to get your garage to check your battery and the
concentration of your anti-freeze as well.
- Battery: In winter, the battery
will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do regular
long journeys to top it up or trickle-charge the battery.
- Fuel: Keep your tank topped up
– that way if you are caught out while you’re out doing courier jobs
you’ll have enough fuel to make it home or run the engine to keep warm.
(It’s essential to keep snow from blocking the exhaust as noxious fumes
can leak into the vehicle.)
- Visibility: Falling snow can cut
visibility dramatically, so dip your headlights and reduce your speed.
Even during the day, using your headlights in winter is as much about
being seen as it is about seeing. Road markings and traffic signs can be
obscured too, so take extra care at junctions.
- Winter tyres or snow socks: Carrying chains will help in
the most extreme situations, but snow socks are a better bet; they’re far
easier to fit and won’t damage the road surface if it isn’t entirely
covered. Fitting winter tyres is just as good, as they are more effective
below 7°C in any weather conditions, and offer more grip on loose or slippery
- Brush the snow off your
car: It can fall from the roof and obscure the rear window while driving,
or worse, fly off at high speed and hit the vehicles behind. If it happens
to have tree debris – twigs or chunks of bark – hidden within, it could
cause serious damage. Make sure your rear-view mirrors and rear window are
cleared too, so that you can see what’s happening behind you, and your
side windows so that you can see what’s coming at junctions. Do not use
water to de-ice windscreens because hot water can crack the glass and the
water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you are
- If you do get stuck: Don’t spin your wheels.
Instead, try to dig away the snow in front of the wheels and sprinkle salt
or sand, as this will help to give you extra traction. If you are trapped
in your vehicle, you can stay warm by running the engine, however it is
vital that the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. If the engine fumes
cannot escape, you could be overwhelmed by carbon monoxide gas, which is
highly toxic. Even if it is safe, do not run the engine for more than 10
or 15 minutes in each hour.
- Pack an emergency kit: In case you do end up
stranded, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re ready. Packing an emergency
kit can save you a lot of stress if you get stuck in your van in a bad
Remember, snow, ice, fog and other inclement conditions can catch out
even the most experienced driver, so the best advice, as simple as it may be
is: keep calm and be prepared.