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Get prepared for winter with Logistics UK’s expert guide

The days are drawing in and the weather’s changing fast. With that in mind, the MAC’s Senior Transport Advisor, Dan Crutchington, has some critical advice for operators and drivers to help prepare for, and deal with, snow and ice.

Before the winter months 

  • Check electrical connections are secure and operational, including the battery charging systems, as starting in cold weather makes the battery work harder. Additionally, check the alternator to ensure it can charge at the correct rate when operating under full load and equipment switched on. 

  • Inspect the condition of the radiator, hoses and thermostat to ensure that it is operational as required. Ensure that antifreeze is topped up as per manufacturer guidelines and windscreen fluids are topped up with the ratio checked to ensure it does not freeze in low temperatures. 

  • Ensure that any other engine fluids are checked and topped up as necessary, including power train and gearbox oils, replacing any filters if required. 

Ensure you are prepared 

  • Make sure drivers are up to date with changing weather conditions and road closures. 

  • Where weather conditions are expected to be severe, consider discussing delivery expectations with customers and prioritising deliveries, including allowing more time for the journey and at any exposed delivery points. 

  • In snowy or freezing conditions, carry in the cab: an ice scraper; a shovel; a couple of strong sacks (to put under the drive wheels if the vehicle becomes stuck); warm clothes and a blanket; a torch, food, and a warm drink in a flask; a road atlas; a mobile phone and charger; and sunglasses (the glare from snow can be dazzling). 

Check the vehicle 

  • Keep the visibility as high as possible by ensuring the windscreen, washers, mirrors and lights are clean and clear of snow and ice, and that the wipers are in good condition so that they are able to keep the windscreen clear. 

  • Check any air intake grills for leaves, snow and ice and keep them clear. This includes the intake for the heating system. 

  • Before moving off, ensure that the whole of the vehicle is cleared of ice and snow, including the roof. This will help protect vehicles behind from potentially dangerous sheets of ice falling off when driving. 

  • Check all lighting systems including headlights - both dipped and full beam - indicators, markers, and rear lights to ensure all are working and are clear of snow and ice. 

  • Check the cab heating system is fully operational as well as any night heating equipment. 

Get a grip 

  • Consider introducing a temporary minimum tread depth of 5mm for the duration of the adverse weather. 

  • Consider the use of winter tyres if you operate in areas commonly affected by snowfall and icy roads. The order of fitment priority is: firstly to drive axles, followed by steered axles and then to remaining axles (such as lift and trailer axles). 

  • For periods of prolonged and heavy snowfall, consider the use of snow chains or snow socks. Remember, however, that use of snow chains in the wrong conditions will damage both the tyre and the road surface (for which you will be liable). Always follow manufacturers’ instructions. 

  • Check tyre pressures for better grip, braking distance and handling, as cold winter temperatures typically reduce tyre pressure. 

Drive safely 

Here's some advice for driving in snow and icy conditions. 

  • Ensure the whole of your vehicle (especially your windscreen and mirrors) is cleared of ice and snow before attempting to move off. 

  • Lower your speed and keep a good distance from other vehicles – allow ten times the normal stopping distances on icy roads. 

  • Allow for the fact other drivers may get into difficulties. 

  • All braking must be gentle and over much longer distances, especially when driving articulated vehicles or those with a trailer attached. 

  • Avoid any sudden braking, steering or acceleration. 

  • Falling snow can reduce visibility dramatically, use dipped headlights and reduce your speed. 

  • Road markings and traffic signs can be obscured by snow. Take extra care at junctions. 

  • In prolonged periods of snow, the fixing of snow chains or snow socks to driven wheels can prove to be of value. 

  • Don’t attempt to overtake a snow plough or vehicle spreading salt, unless you are sure the road is clear, and the conditions allow it to be done safely. 

  • When driving at night, be alert for a drop in temperature. If the steering feels light, you may be driving on ice, so ease your speed as soon as it is safe to do so. 

  • If your vehicle becomes stuck in deep snow, engage the diff-lock (if one is fitted) to regain forward traction – but remember to switch it off as soon as the vehicle is moving and before attempting a turn. Alternatively, use the highest gear you can to improve traction. Then try alternating between reverse and the forward gear until forward motion is possible. Avoid continual revving in a low gear, which could lead to the drive wheel digging a deeper rut. 

When operating independent retarders, take care when going downhill in snow. The retarders could cause the rear wheels to lock, although some retarders are managed by ABS to help avoid this problem. 

More information can be found on the advice section of our website here and you can get all your essential winter products in the Logistics UK shop.

Published On: 02/11/2023 14:00:00


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