When it comes to running your commercial vehicle this winter it can be hard to ensure that your vehicle stays on the road during the cold weather especially in snow or icy conditions. Below we have come up with our top tips for keeping your commercial vehicle on the road during the winter whilst keeping you safe and your costs down.
Here in England snow is not something we are really prepared for; over the last couple of years the country has come to a virtual standstill as soon as the snow hits but if you repair boilers for a living, for example, cancelling your next job because of a little snow is not really an option especially if you are self-employed. There is no doubt that the icy weather is more hazardous for drivers and there are more accidents, breakdowns and journey times are increased. Not only this, the cost of driving actually increases during the winter but when you are running a business keeping costs low is important. According to the Association of British Insurers, during the winter of 2010-2011 alone insurers had to pay out £530 million as a result of 278,000 claims. In turn, each person that made a claim would have seen their insurance policy increase the following year and have to pay an excess. The cause of these claims were mostly due to low impact collisions which were due to icy road conditions. With this in mind, put into practice the tips below and you will keep your costs down.
Ensure that you have your vehicle checked regularly especially in the winter. This is because it is important that your vehicle has the right amount of antifreeze protection. If the water in your engine is to freeze and thaw this could cause serious damage to your commercial vehicle costing you a fair bit of money! You should also check that you are using the right type of oil. This is because the cold temperatures affect the rate in which the oil flows through your engine and if it is the wrong type of oil it will make it even harder. Windscreen wash is essential during the winter and you should use a stronger concentration as this will ensure that the system doesn’t freeze. There are also a number of other things that need to be checked such as brake fluid, your tyres and your battery which can all be done at your local garage if you are not confident carrying out these checks on your own.
There are also some techniques you can use when driving during the winter. These include keeping your speed low – if you do come across an icy patch it is far easier to control your vehicle if you are going at a slow speed and if you were to bump into something then the damage will be a lot less than if you were traveling at a fast speed. You should also avoid hard braking. It is easy enough to skid when braking when the ground isn’t icy so during the winter this is especially dangerous as you could lose complete control of your van if you brake harshly on ice. As it gets dark sooner it is important that your lights and number plate are kept clean and if there is snow you should clear it from the roof, wheel arches and windows. You should also check the angle of your lights – you don’t want to dazzle drivers at any time of the year let alone in the winter when the roads are more dangerous!
You should have a safety kit in your van too in case of an emergency and it should be restocked if used. If you don’t have a kit in your van here is what it should include if you have the room:
• De-icing equipment
• Tow Rope
• First Aid Kit
• Mobile Phone
• Wellington Boots
This way if you do breakdown then you are prepared enough to stay safe whilst you are waiting for the breakdown recovery service to help you out.
It is important that you don’t try and save every penny possible when it comes to your breakdown cover. It may be that you don’t use it from year to year but if you are on your way home from your last job on Christmas Eve and you break down on the motorway you don’t really want to ring your breakdown cover provider to find out that they won’t tow you home!
Driving your commercial vehicle during the winter can be expensive if you have an accident. This is because you may have to claim on your commercial vehicle insurance policy which will mean you have to pay your excess and your policy may increase next year. Therefore it is important to check that your vehicle is functioning properly so you and others on the road stay safe this winter!
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