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Winter Weather Driving Toolbox Talk

In this toolbox talk, remind your crews of winter driving safety best practices when it comes to driving in snowy and icy conditions.

Winter Driving Safety Talk

Getting behind the wheel of a car is a big responsibility, even on a clear summer day. Winter weather driving is a different beast. Driving in snow, sleet, or slick conditions can quickly turn into a hazardous situation. When winter weather starts to accumulate on the roads, hazards increase, and accidents happen.

Not all states get winter weather to the point of having snow or ice. If someone is not familiar with the safe driving habits to use while there is snow or ice, it can be a very difficult task. Even people who have driven in snow for years still have to be super conscious and aware. In this 5 minute safety talk on winter driving, we’ll cover how to be a safe winter driver, tips for driving in snow and ice, and what things to always keep in your vehicle in case of an emergency during winter.

Winter Driving Injury & Fatality Statistics

According to the The Department of Transportation, 192,000 injuries and 2,200 deaths are reported every single year from winter-related conditions. There is also millions of dollars in damage done to people's property each year from winter-related crashes. Bottom line: Winter driving is hazardous. Which is why it's so important you know learn how to safely drive in winter.

Winter Driving Safety Tips

When you have to drive in winter weather conditions, it is very important that you learn how to do so safely. Winter driving is definitely a learned skill that not everyone has had the experience of doing and can pose a real problem for many people unaccustomed to it. Here are some tips for being a safe driver during winter:

1. Avoid Driving Unless Necessary

If you can avoid driving in winter weather conditions, you should do so. You need to think about the jobs and tasks that can be done on another day to make it safer for employees. In construction, many tasks cannot be performed in wet conditions anyway.

2. Plan Ahead

If you are needing to do job-related traveling, you should always keep a lookout for the weather. When you live somewhere that you know does experience snowy conditions, you should plan your driving ahead of time. It might be that you leave a day early or late, but safety comes first.

3. Drive Slowly

The way that you drive will change when it is snowing or icy outside. You cannot go at the same speeds as you would if the road was dry. This way you are able to pay closer attention and have ample time to stop if you need to.

4. Be Defensive While Driving

To be a defensive driver means a few different things. It means that you are aware of your surroundings and have a plan for if something were to happen. You should always keep a good distance of space between you and other drivers in snowy conditions.

Can Your Trip Wait? If Not, Make a Plan

It is important to remember that when there are dangerous conditions on the road, that you may be better off staying put. Think to yourself about the necessity of the trip you are needing to take. Can it wait?

If your trip cannot wait, you need to make a plan. Think about the safest roads three are for you to use while driving. Main roads are going to be cleared more than side roads. If you are headed into work, make them aware that you are on your way. This can be helpful in a couple of different ways, such as:

  • Let them know you are on your way

  • Let them know you may be late

  • Be aware that you are traveling in bad conditions

  • Be able to send help if you need it

Construction worker driving tractor in the snow during winter.

Tips For Driving In Snow and Ice

If you have never driven in the snow or ice before, it is a whole new experience. It is definitely a time to be more cautious and aware of your surroundings. People who have been driving in these conditions for years still have to be super careful. It can be very unpredictable, which requires you to be very alert. Some tips to prevent an accident while driving on snow and ice:

1. Increase Your Follow Distance

Add an additional 5 to 6 seconds to your regular following distance. This is a safer distance in slick conditions and gives you time to react better.

2. Try Not To Brake Hard

Coming to a complete stop on slick roads is a challenge. You need to be far enough from other vehicles at all times to be able to slow down progressively.

3. Take Your Time

Do not get in a rush, you are going to make better decisions when you take your time. Being safe is more important than being on time.

4. Keep Your Speed Steady

Accelerating and braking are different when it is on ice and snow. Trying to maintain a steady speed is going to help you keep better control of the vehicle.

5. Never Brake On A Hill

When you are on a hill, you should never try to brake. You are more likely to roll backward and be unable to gain control until on more level ground or crashing.

6. Increase and Decrease Speed Slowly

When you are pressing into the gas, do so slowly. The same goes for when you are braking. Quick changes can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

7. Always Have At Least Half A Tank Of Gas

In case you breakdown, you should always have half a tank of gas in your vehicle. This way you can stay warm if you need to. Also, this is helpful when you get stuck in traffic due to weather conditions.

8. Don’t Use Cruise Control

Cruise control does not allow you to have instant control of the vehicle, should a hazard suddenly appear. You want to be the one accelerating and braking when there are dangerous conditions on the road.

Things To Have In Your Vehicle In Case Of An Emergency During Winter

You never know when your car may break down or an accident will occur. That is why it is a good idea to have a few supplies in your car. The cold winter weather can be brutal and leave you miserable if you are not prepared. Some good items to have in your car at all times if you are traveling in the snow and ice are:

  • A blanket to stay warm while waiting on help

  • Have gloves, scarves, and a jacket

  • Water bottles to have something to drink

  • Nonperishable foods to eat

  • A flashlight

  • Something to scrape ice off your windshield

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