Winter is here and all those short days, long nights, and snow and ice can get you down. Everything seems to get a little harder in the winter – especially driving.
If you’re a courier or taxi driver, you have to drive for your job, and winter weather can make your life more difficult if you don’t take precautions. With only a few easy winter driving tips, you can make getting around simple – no matter the weather. Follow our handy guide for tips on keeping you, your passengers and your deliveries safe on the roads during winter.
- Prepare your vehicle before you set off
- Tips for driving in snow and ice
- Insurance during weather warnings
- Keeping taxi passengers safe
- Check your insurance
One of the most important elements of winter driving safety is preparation. You can reduce the risk to yourself and your vehicle by planning ahead.
Before setting off, consider your route and check the weather forecast. Think about any roads you might use that could be icy or flooded – major roads and motorways are more likely to be gritted. If you can, avoid roads that you think will be dangerous. Make sure to take plenty of time – driving in winter conditions means you’ll need to go slowly.
Check your vehicle too before you leave:
- Petrol/diesel – check that you have enough fuel for a longer journey.
- Windows – Fully de-mist your screens and clear all windows of snow and ice before setting off.
- Windscreen wipers and screenwash – check your windscreen wipers are working and the blades are attached or replaced if necessary. Check your screenwash levels – there’s more dirt on the roads during winter, as well as salt and grit.
- Tyres – a deep tread minimises the risk of skidding. Tyre tread should be at least 3mm deep, anything under 1.6mm is illegal to drive with. Make sure your tyres are inflated to the recommended PSI.
- Battery – cold weather can impact your car or van battery, making it harder to start your vehicle on a cold day. Batteries should be replaced about every 5 years, but if you regularly use your car or van, 3 years is a good lifespan to aim for. To avoid killing your battery, make sure you switch all lights, wipers and heating off before you turn off your engine at the end of a drive. Reduce your use of electronics (satnav, phone charger) as they drain your battery power.
- Always pack an emergency kit – high vis clothing, a snow shovel and a warm blanket. If something bad does happen when you are driving on icy roads, you don’t want to be stuck in the snow without them.
As a courier or taxi driver, you might be required to drive in snow. While many countries teach driving in icy conditions as standard, few people in the UK have much experience with it. Winter road safety means following the usual patterns of safe driving, but to a greater extent.
Precautions you should take when driving in snow and ice:
- Drive slow and steady in snow or ice. Driving too fast could cause unnecessary skidding.
- If your vehicle begins to skid on snow or ice, the most important thing is not to panic. This might seem obvious, but when you start to skid it can be hard to remember. Try not to brake. Steer into the skid, and don’t try to correct yourself.
- Leave a large gap between yourself and the car in front.
- Drive in a higher gear if you feel you need more control. The key to driving safely in winter is patience.
If there has been a weather warning, you might be concerned about your insurance. But rest assured, you are still covered. As long as your car has passed its MOT and is road legal, your insurance should not be affected by weather warnings.
However, make sure that your insurance is appropriate for your needs. For example, if you are delivering packages, you will need Courier Van and Goods in Transit insurance. If you drive a taxi, you need private hire or public hire taxi insurance.
Equally, ensure that your cover protects you against accidental damage (third party only cover does not). You should also consider breakdown cover alongside your insurance.
Even if you are prepared for driving on slippery roads, make sure your insurance is too.
Even if you follow all our winter driving safety tips, driving passengers around in your taxi can have some additional dangers, and there are extra precautions you should take:
- Don’t let passengers rush you, even if they are keen to get to their destination quickly. Explain the winter road safety plan that you are following to your passengers. This means only going as fast as is safe.
- Check your routes before picking up or dropping off passengers. Let them know that you might take a different route than usual, to avoid the worst affected roads.
- If a passenger makes a request you don’t consider safe, you don’t have to do it. Winter weather driving safety means taking every precaution you can – even if your passengers ask you to do otherwise.
Driving safely in winter isn’t just your responsibility and preventing an accident isn’t always up to you. You can put as much preparation and thought into your driving as possible, but other drivers might not and accidents can still happen. This makes having the right insurance essential.
Get a quote for courier or taxi cover from ChoiceQuote.