One of the best feelings in the world is hearing the driving test examiner say “I am happy to say that you have passed the driving test”. From that moment, one thing is 100% certain, during the years of driving; many different driving conditions will be experienced. A big part of becoming both a skillful and experienced driver is learning the best methods of safe driving when road conditions are far from ideal. While taking driving lessons it is unlikely that all the dangers such as snow, ice, rain, sleet, hail, fog and wind will have been encountered. It is important when the driving conditions are dangerous to know how to drive, not just for the safety of the driver but also passengers and other road users. Van drivers, who are on the road more than most, need to be aware of adverse driving conditions to avoid making a claim on their Commercial Vehicle Insurance Policy.
Fog will reduce substantially what can be seen, so it is important to use the fog lights, drive slower than normal and leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front. If the fog is extreme, the car in front will not always be visible, so extra care is needed as fog will distort ones perception of speed and distance. Always check mirrors more often. Do not increase the speed of the car as soon as your visibility has returned, if the fog is patchy it could return in a few metres.
Rain is the most common weather that will be faced in the UK. When driving in rain slow the speed of the vehicle down. The road becomes much more slippery during wet conditions; one reason for this is the oil on the road will have mixed with the rainwater, which will create a treacherous surface. Like fog, visibility will be reduced. Braking should be done earlier and with less force than normal. Make sure the tires have a good tread and have enough air in them, as under inflated tires can contribute to hydroplaning on wet roadways.
In snow or ice, driving can pose many challenges. Vehicles can get stuck in snowy conditions even on roads you are familiar with, forcing anybody in the vehicle to spend the night on the roadside. In snow it is important to get the speed correct. Go too fast and risk losing control of the vehicle, too slow there is a risk of losing momentum. If the vehicle skids the important thing to remember is don’t use the pedals, just steer, and only use the brakes if the vehicle is unable to steer out of trouble. Normal stopping distances should be doubled or even tripled from the vehicle in front.
In High Winds keep a firm grip on the steering wheel as a sudden gust can cause the vehicle to be blown into another lane. Wind very rarely blows steadily, and a sudden gust can surprise even experienced drivers and remember that the faster the vehicle is going, the further off-course it will drift if a sudden gust wind hits the vehicle. Most affected by wind are high sided vehicles and caravans, but in truth any vehicle is at risk. If the van breaks down whilst on the motorway, bear in mind that any vehicle can be blown suddenly off course and crash into anything on the hard shoulder. In these conditions it is much safer to wait in a safe place rather than wait in the van.