Driving Safely in Winter Weather

Winter weather conditions pose extremely dangerous road conditions for drivers. According to the Federal Highway Administration, over 70% of the nation’s roads are located in snowy regions–including Connecticut and surrounding New England. Reduced pavement friction caused by snow and ice leads to lower roadway capacities, loss of control, and higher crash risks. Your public entity certainly cannot control roadway conditions, but with the right strategies in place, it can help promote safe driving practices by enforcing critical driver and road safety policies.

Before you drive:

  • Recognize the hazards of driving on snow/ice-covered roads in the winter
  • Ensure employees are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions
  • Ensure employees are licensed for the vehicles they operate
  • Check weather conditions for travel routes before you are behind the wheel
  • Get plenty of rest to avoid fatigue while driving

Vehicle Preparation:

Employers should ensure that a trained professional inspects vehicles to determine if they are working properly.

  • Check for proper tire inflation according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure
  • Check for proper tread depth (2/32 of an inch or greater on all tires) with no signs of punctures, cuts, or bulges
  • Check the cooling system and ensure it is a mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water at the proper level
  • Check the windshield wipers and replace them if necessary. Ensure the wiper fluid is rated for -30 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Check that all fluids are at the proper level (oil fluid, brake fluid, etc.)
  • Check that headlight, turn signals, and brake lights are functioning properly
  • Check the battery because as the temperature drops, so does battery power
  • Ensure that vehicles are equipped with a spare tire
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full
  • Remove snow and ice from your vehicle
  • Keep an emergency kit in vehicles; OSHA recommends the following items:
    • Charged cellphone or two-way radio
    • Windshield ice scraper
    • Snow brushFlashlight with extra batteries
    • Shovel
    • Tow chain
    • Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)
    • Emergency flares
    • Jumper cables
    • Snacks
    • Water
    • Road maps
    • Blankets, change of clothes

While Driving:

  • Keep your seat belt buckled at all times
  • Increase distances between cars, as stopping distances increase because of icy roads
  • Stay at least 200 feet behind snow plows and salt/sanding trucks
  • Stay alert for pedestrians and warning signs
  • Steer into a skid if the vehicle starts drifting – turn into the direction that the back wheels are sliding towards
  • If the vehicle is stopped or stalled, stay in the vehicle and use bright markers on the antenna or windows and shine the interior dome light

Helpful Resources:

https://www.osha.gov/winter-weather/hazards

https://www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-tips

https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/seasonal-safety/winter-safety/driving?

https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/weather_events/snow_ice.htm

For more information on this topic, contact your CIRMA Risk Management Consultant.

 Remember, training and education remain the most effective way to help keep you safe and avoid losses; your organization can help. Learn at your own pace and when and where you choose with CIRMA’s e-learning resources, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you haven’t taken advantage of the many benefits available through CIRMA’s e-Learning platform, contact your local CIRMA Risk Management representative today to get started. CIRMA members and their employees enjoy access to this exclusive learning platform as part of their membership.

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