British Columbia’s winter driving season is upon us, and for those who drive for work, it represents one of the most hazardous times of the year. No matter where you are based in the province, winter brings challenging road conditions ranging from snow and ice, to rain and fog. Even the most experienced drivers are challenged by cold temperatures, slippery roads and reduced visibility.
In BC, the average number of crashes where someone is killed or injured due to ‘driving too fast for the conditions’ more than doubles from fall to early winter – on average from 99 in September to 220 in December. This time of year is also risky for employees who drive for work as almost one-third of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time loss occur between November and January.
Meet Your Health and Safety Responsibilities
Winter driving preparedness isn’t just practical, it’s required. Employers and supervisors are legally responsible for employees when they drive for work regardless of the frequency or ownership of the vehicles they drive. Employers and supervisors should have winter driving safety policies and procedures in place, ensure their employees are aware of the hazards they may be exposed to in winter driving conditions, and provide them with the necessary information, instruction, training, equipment and supervision for the driving assigned to them.
British Columbians face a variety of winter conditions, such as cold temperatures, rain, fog, snow, ice, high winds, reduced visibility, and fewer daylight hours. Everyone needs to be prepared for the road conditions they could encounter.
Preparation starts with planning strategies to reduce the risk your employees are exposed to while driving in winter conditions. Identify the winter driving hazards and assess risks such as seasonal weather conditions, vehicle condition, driver skills and road hazards. This is all part of developing, updating, and implementing the safety policy and procedures mentioned above.
Winterize your company vehicles by installing a set of four matched winter tires, having a pre-season maintenance check-up, and placing an emergency kit in every vehicle. If your employees drive their own vehicles, check to make sure they have had this work done.
Prepare Employee Drivers
Prepare your employees for winter driving by educating them on their legal rights and responsibilities, and your winter driving safety policies and procedures. Your winter driving safety policy should clearly communicate expectations such as considering whether driving is absolutely necessary or other travel means are possible. When they have to drive, the policy should ensure employees are prepared for the situations they may face.
Check to make sure your employees are capable of safely navigating roads in winter driving conditions and know what to do in the event of an emergency. If they’re nervous, inexperienced, or just need a refresher, offer them coaching or training. For example, ask them to register for Road Safety at Work’s free webinar Practical BC Winter Driving Tips.
Road safety is smart business. Using the free resources like the employer tool kit and online course at ShiftIntoWinter.ca can help reduce the risk of a serious crash, which in turn can enhance employee morale and retention, lower organizational costs, and improve business performance.