Bad weather conditions are something that we cannot control, but having said that
there is a lot that we as couriers/owner-drivers can do to mitigate its effects.
Being prepared is the key to overcoming inclement weather conditions and while I don’t think that you need to purchase snow chains, there are some things that you can do that will help, as follows:
- Check the weather forecast for the day. Do this first thing and throughout the
day if necessary. At the very least, this will tell you if you need to take a
waterproof jacket, or whether you’ll be able to leave the fleece at home today.
- If there is a chance that you may end up driving in snowy, or icy conditions
extra care will be required. In winter, ensure that you have topped up with
antifreeze and that you carry some de-icer with you. Also understand that
your battery will receive additional punishment through the extra use of
lights, wind-screen wipers etc.
Larger vans are often rear wheel drive, which is great when you’re
carrying a heavy load, but when the load is light, or you are empty, they are
like Bambi on ice! Not good! When I first started driving a van I expected it
to be more sure-footed in the snow than my car. I quickly found out that this
was a false expectation, when I couldn’t get up even a modest hill, with only
a thin scattering of snow on it. In this situation, I repeat, snow chains are not
necessary. What might be useful though is to always carry a bag of rock-salt,
or grit and a shovel with you during winter. They are great for those times
when you do get stuck to either dig yourself out, or sometimes, just putting
a scattering of rock-salt under, and in front of, the drive-wheels is enough
to get you going again. (I’ve also used old mats and cardboard in a similar
way to good effect).
It is also possible to fit winter tyres to your vehicle, which have a slightly
different composition to standard tyres that helps them to perform better in
snowy, or icy conditions.
Generally, in icy conditions, keep your speed down, avoid hard
acceleration, or braking and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle
in front. On hills, take it steady and avoid braking, or changing gear.
In summary on this one, if the forecast is for heavy snow and/or very icy
conditions, if at all possible, stay at home. If you do have to venture out, don’t
try to be a hero and scale steep hills, unless they have been gritted and are
free of snow and ice.
- Don’t travel if you can possibly avoid it.
- If you do have to travel, take it steady.
- Be prepared.
- Carry a bag of rock-salt in your van, along with a shovel.
Be safe and happy driving!