Getting stranded in bad weather: how to advise drivers

Written by Ellie

Getting stuck in snow can be a real problem for fleet drivers. More than just inconvenient, having vehicles with key personnel or goods stuck for hours, overnight, or even for days, can have a significant impact on a business.

Ensuring that drivers are therefore prepared for any eventuality is important for every fleet. Passing on some vital tips could mean the difference between mobility and stasis, so we’ve collated some useful advice to pass on to drivers for when it snows.

  1. Be prepared

Drivers have a better chance of getting out of a bit of snowy bother if they already have some useful aids in the vehicle.

So they’ll need some tools to help them going, including a snow shovel, tow rope, cat litter or gravel to place under the wheels to improve traction or even a set of traction tracks.

Additionally, a set of snow chains or snow socks will also improve the chances of getting back on the move.

Warm clothes, gloves and hats and sturdy boots are also a must to help drivers keep warm while digging their car out. A torch – better still, a head torch – is essential. Handheld mechanically powered can also be useful as they require no batteries (making them better for the environment as well as more practical) and turn on simple by shaking them or pressing a handle.

And, just in case, drivers do get stranded, blankets, healthy food and a bottle of water as well as a mobile phone battery charger should also be onboard. The fuel tank should be topped up just in case drivers do get stuck and they have to run the engine to switch the heater on.

  1. Make an assessment

As soon as drivers come to a halt and they can’t move on, they need to calmly assess the situation and work out the best course of action.

A local radio station or weather app could offer some vital intelligence about conditions in the area, as could looking around to see if other drivers are in the same situation.

Being in a built-up area might mean help could be more forthcoming or give more options for shelter.

  1. Be seen

Drivers should put their hazard lights on as soon as they come to a standstill and, if they have a warning triangle, it should be placed on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind the vehicle. They should also wear a hi-vis safety jacket so they can be seen on the road.

  1. Start digging

The first thing to do is clear snow away from around the car, with the tailpipe an important area to concentrate on, to avoid carbon monoxide fumes building up in the car.

Then shovel as much snow from around the wheels as possible, to make the area clear, and scatter the cat litter or gravel around the vehicle’s driven wheels.

  1. Socks or chains on

Fit the snow chains or socks to the wheels – with the driven wheels a priority – to give the vehicle as much chance of gaining some traction as possible.

  1. Start rockin’

Drivers should ensure that their wheels are straightened, then engage a low gear to try to move off (second gear is often a good choice).

Revs should be kept low enough so that wheels aren’t spinning and, if that isn’t working, try switching between forward and reverse gears to try and rock the car to gain some traction.

  1. Take shelter

If it’s not possible to get the vehicle moving, drivers should take shelter inside it, keeping warm with as many clothes on as possible and any blankets. If conditions are really bad, it’s easier for emergency services to find vehicle occupants if they stay put.

This is even better advice if a vehicle gets stuck away from centres of population. Drivers do not want to get stuck trekking through blizzards, not knowing exactly where they are.

The engine can also be switched on now and again for a blast of warm air from the heater.

  1. Be sociable

If there are other vehicles stuck in the same location, drivers should talk to each other, share resources and even take turns to switch engines (and, therefore, heaters) on to make the most of fuel.

  1. Stay calm

If it’s looking as if drivers might be stuck for some time, it’s imperative that they stay calm and wait for help to come. The situation is outside their control, so not getting stressed and not doing anything reckless is crucial.


Source: Fluid Thinking – Shell

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