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Road safety for businesses: the 4 basics to prepare for winter

Whether your fleet consists of frequent-travel utility vehicles, machinery or HGVs, winter driving is more risky for your drivers. Here are the four basics you should know as a fleet manager to ensure road safety at work in winter.

1. Driving in winter: risk factors to anticipate

Mortality on the road increases every year when daylight saving time starts


Certain risk factors may seem obvious, such as driving at high altitudes in thick snow. Other situations may jeopardise road safety at work because they are more difficult to anticipate.

The impact of weather conditions on driving

Falling temperatures may lead to:

  • loss of grip on the road (heavy rain, snow, ice),
  • damage caused by the cold: discharged battery, freezing fluids, or cracking of the exhaust system that can cause exhaust gases to escape into the passenger compartment and lead to exposure to carbon monoxide.

Low light and night driving can lead to:

  • a reduction in visibility (snow, bad weather, night fog) and difficulty estimating stopping distances, increasing the risk of collision,
  • greater fatigue at the wheel and difficulties concentrating.

Vigilance points: winter risks that tend to be forgotten

Be vigilant wherever you are

Extreme weather is common in colder regions. However, it can also occur outside mountainous areas and French infrastructure is ill equipped to deal with it.

Anticipate the clocks changing to winter time

Each year this causes an uptick in accidents. Do not be afraid to give your drivers a quick reminder by asking them to be doubly vigilant in this period.

Additional mistrust in winter of motorised personal vehicles

The widespread use of electric scooters and their derivatives is a significant extra risk on the roads for employees driving at night, especially in urban areas. Although they are now required by law to have front and rear lights, not all motorised personal vehicles do so.

2. Road safety for businesses: how to check and prepare your vehicles

Correct vehicle preparation is essential to prevent risk factors. What this entails: checking the vehicle’s general condition and provision of appropriate winter equipment and accessories. Here is a checklist to run through during the planning phase:

Checks to carry out before winter

  • Lights: the effectiveness of the bulbs used in headlights diminishes over time (50% reduction after two years).
  • Wipers: blades deteriorate every year.
  • Battery: this is weakened by the drop in temperatures and can lose some of its charge.
  • Fluid levels: water, coolant, screenwash, oil and antifreeze.
  • Tyre pressures and, if the tyres are not new, tyre wear.

Equipment to be provided

  • Winter tyres: weather conditions in winter (temperatures below 7°C, snow, ice) reduce tyre grip on the road. Even if new, summer tyres still offer worse performance. (see the section on winter tyres below)
  • Additional accessories: windscreen scraper or de-icing product, rags, head torch. If there is a high risk of ice (especially for construction vehicles): screenwash with antifreeze and a winter coolant, lock defrost spray, protective product for door seals.
  • A winter emergency kit for vehicles exposed to these conditions. This generally contains safety equipment: first aid kit, road flares, chains, reflective triangles, but also a survival blanket and non-perishable food in case of a lengthy wait for rescue services.
  • Carbon monoxide detector, recommended in the cab of vehicles with bunks.

Winter tires in winter conditions mean more control and less road accidents

3. The winter tyres question

25% of companies install special equipment (tyres and chains) on their vehicles for the winter. This figure should increase as a result of recent regulatory changes. We explain why.

New requirements for equipment in winter

Montagne II Law: who is affected?

Light vehicles, utility vehicles, coaches, buses and HGVs without a trailer or semi-trailer must have a choice of either four winter tyres fitted or metal or textile snow chains that can be installed on two drive wheels.

HGVs with a trailer or semi-trailer must have snow chains that can be installed on at least two drive wheels, even if they are fitted with winter tyres (even if they are studded).

Scope and period of application

These requirements apply in 48 French departments . The prefects have drawn up a list of the municipalities affected. These areas will be marked by new road signs.

The requirement  first came into force from 1 November 2021 until 31 March 2022 (it is renewed each year to the same timetable). The fine for failure to comply is 135 euros. The government says that ‘tolerance’ will be applied in winter 2021.

How do you comply with this requirement when managing your fleet?

Determining the vehicles affected by this safety measure

Fitting winter tyres can reduce risks on the road for employees in winter but has an impact on your TCO. Determining as part of your car policy (see the section below on this policy) which drivers should be eligible for winter tyres can keep costs under control.

Vehicles that are used in areas where the Montagne II Law applies and where there is a likelihood of snow are affected by the requirement. In any case, set out the rules and conditions for obtaining them to prevent the criteria from being subject to interpretation.

Managing the life span of your tyres

Using a fleet management solution with on-board telematics can enable you to:

  • identify the affected vehicles in your fleet,
  • anticipate the schedule of interventions to install winter tyres, and the storage of tyres not being used,
  • receive tyre condition indicators (pressure, wear, etc.) throughout the winter to prevent any safety issues and maximise tyre life.

4. Raise driver awareness effectively through your car policy

Although the majority of drivers drive more carefully in winter, the increase in risk factors means driving best practices should be highlighted as well as the procedures to be followed if a problem occurs.

The car policy is a documentation centre directly accessible by drivers from their Ocean Conduite mobile app. This means that you can easily provide them with all the safety information they need.

Provide good driving rules

Remind your drivers how to adapt their driving to winter conditions. These driving principles should include:

  • driving smoothly (moderate speed, no sudden manoeuvres, especially in wet or icy conditions)
  • allowing bigger stopping distances and reducing your speed to suit the weather conditions
  • making a habit of checking your vehicle and switching on your headlights, even during the daytime
  • increasing the frequency of stops to stave off tiredness at the wheel and prevent vehicle overheating
  • adapting journeys and following the best route (limiting travel at night, avoiding risky areas, etc.)
  • following the safety instructions specifically applicable to HGVs (longer stopping distances, travelling in convoy in case vehicles get stuck, etc.)

Document the procedures to be followed if there is a problem

By means of themed factsheets or detailed FAQs, be sure to include in your car policy the answers to any questions that your drivers may have in the event of an incident:

  • Deadlines and monitoring procedures for vehicle servicing: indicate the frequency of checking fluid levels, the date when winter/summer tyres are changed, etc.
  • Procedure in the event of an incident or accident:
    • Procedure for filling in a report form, in the event of serious/minor injuries, etc.
    • Useful contacts: list of the nearest breakdown recovery service, emergency number, company contact in the event of questions, etc.
  • What to do until the emergency services arrive (use of first aid kit, parking of vehicle, etc.)

Sharing of this information may be combined with courses and training for the drivers most exposed to the risks.

#road safety at work #road safety for businesses