This week (20th – 26th November 2017) is Road Safety Week co-ordinated by Brake, the road safety charity. The 2017 theme is ‘Speed Down Save Lives’ and is all about taking action to promote road safety and help save lives through schools, organisations and communities.
Bristol was one of the first Cities to enforce the 20mph limit and even has its own dedicated website however speeding is still a major problem. The 20mph zones were introduced to improve road safety, increase active travel and create more pleasant communities. Speeding causes needless crashes, untold suffering and stops people living safe and healthy lives. A recent Brake survey found that 4 in 10 (40%) UK drivers admitted they sometimes drive at 30mph in 20mph zones. If you are being really honest, are you one of them?
Driving is extremely unpredictable many unexpected situations can happen on the road – such as a lorry jack-knifes or a pedestrian stepping out from between parked cars. It is a driver’s speed that will determine whether they can stop in time and, if they can’t, then how hard they will hit the situation.
Vehicle manufacturers are making cars faster and more powerful than ever before. Driving fast is often glamorised, take the Fast and the Furious film franchise for instance, and often encouraged by adverts that promote the speed of the car. With us all often feeling there are just not enough hours in the day, there is occasionally the temptation to speed up in the hope of saving some time, but in fact, you could be costing lives.
Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast is recorded by police at crash scenes as 23% contributory factor of fatal crashes in Britain and drivers with one annual speeding violation are twice as likely to crash as those with none.
There are many driving risks associated with businesses. The level of risk will vary from business to business but the most common area of risk in the winter is Driving at Work. As a business, you have a legal duty to ensure that you have considered the risks, not only to employees but to everyone who uses your premises.
There’s not only speeding to consider. Driving in the winter brings a whole new set of challenges – icy roads, poorer visibility and the ‘usual suspects’ on the roads means you need your wits about you. We can’t prepare for who you’ll meet on the roads, but we can give you a few things to help prepare you and your car/s:
- Always check the traffic and weather reports for your journey, particularly on the days when the conditions are challenging. highways.gov.uk will also provide you with roadworks near you. Ensure you have a plan in place for severe/adverse weather. Monitor the weather forecast and ensure you’ve adequate supplies of salt/grit or suitable alternative arrangements in place.
- Check the local and regional traffic reports for any localised issues.
- Allow an extra 20 minutes for short journeys, 30 minutes for longer ones – better to be early than dead.
- Make sure your car is ready for winter – keep oil, water, screenwash and brake fluid topped up.
- Check the tyre treads and pressures – make sure to adjust them for winter and wet conditions. You don’t want to be skidding if you have to do an emergency stop.
- Ensure company cars are serviced and ready for winter – check oil, water, screen-wash and brake fluid levels are topped up, tyres are inflated correctly and consider preparing an emergency kit for the boot. A suggested list of contents.
- Pack an emergency kit into the boot – first aid kit, torch, water bottle (with water!), blankets, hazard triangles, coats, hats, gloves, emergency contact numbers, snacks that will last!
- If you live or travel in rural locations consider snow tyres or snow chains – if your work is that important that you must be there come rain, shine, sleet and snow, you may as well make an investment into these items or better still, ask if your employer will help towards the cost.
- Consider a breakdown policy – if this isn’t an option then consider an emergency plan should you get stuck or breakdown. Who will rescue you?
- Make sure your mobile phone is charged suffice to make it home – no point having one if you can’t use it when you need to.
- You/your manager may need to undertake a winter risk assessment to identify hazards that might affect employees and others in the event of severe or adverse weather hazards. These might include: driving, slips trips and falls (when getting out of the vehicle), cold and freezing temperatures and lone working.
- Consider putting together a gritting plan and clearly identify key areas that need to be kept clear and prioritise these. This might include access to car parks, footpaths, access to main doors, bin stores, outbuildings and emergency exits.
- Plan where possible for alternative ways of working, for example in some organisations staff may be able to work from home or an alternative office. Check with your IT provider that remote connections are working. If you can work from home then discuss an emergency policy with your boss to cover those days when travel becomes dangerous.
- It may be appropriate to introduce a ‘Winter Driving Policy’ – thought should be given to those days when travel becomes dangerous for alternative working options i.e. Home working on those days.
- Above all, use your common sense – if something seems potentially dangerous, it probably is, so take action.
This list of checks is by no means exhaustive and each environment will have its own dangers and cautions to be aware of. Taking a few minutes now will help ensure your business continues to run smoothly this winter whilst keeping staff and others safe on the roads.
If you would like to further your skills on how to assess risk in the workplace then our 1-day ‘Risk Assessment’ course could be for you. Here you’ll learn how to assess risk in a practical way using a variety of different methods. You will gain an understanding of the risk assessment process and the confidence to undertake and record assessments themselves.
If you would like any personalised advice please get in touch with us.
We hope this helps.
The Acorn Team