Safety Culture and Behavioral Safety

Train Employees to Stay Safe on Icy, Dicey Winter Roads

Winter can be the most dangerous time of year to drive. Courtesy of the Iowa DOT, here are some tips to keep safe until spring.

Ah, winter! It’s a time of beautiful snowscapes, skating and sledding. Unfortunately, much of that skating and sledding is done by drivers on icy roads, to nasty effect. Taking note, the Iowa Department of Transportation, which knows a thing or two about winter, put together this list of safe winter driving tips. They’re worth sharing with your employees.

When driving in icy conditions:

  • Slow down! Wear seat belts. Never drink and drive.
  • Put extra distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes. The wheels could lock causing your car to slide.
  • If your car starts sliding, take your foot off the gas, keep your foot off the brake, and turn your wheels in the direction it is sliding to straighten it out.
  • Drive on interstates and one-way roads whenever possible. Head-on collisions are among the greatest killers on wet or icy roads.
  • Turn on your lights to see and be seen.
  • Clear snow and ice off the headlights, taillights, mirrors, and license plates. Stop the car when necessary to keep the windows clear.
  • Be aware that bridges, ramps, and overpasses may freeze first.
  • Check that wipers are not frozen to the windshield. Consider replacing your original wipers with heavy-duty ones.

Everyone knows the dangers of snow and ice, but rain can also be a real hazard on the road if you aren’t careful. Here are some important pointers for driving safely on rainy days:

  • Use windshield wipers, lights, and defroster to maintain visibility.
  • Avoid puddles. They can hide damaging potholes.
  • Prevent dangerous hydroplaning. That’s what happens when you go fast enough for your tires to float on the water on the road, not rest on the road surface itself. Speeds of 50 mph and greater increase the risk of hydroplaning, so slow down when roads are wet.
  • Beware of light rain, which can make the road very slippery. In fact, roads are often most dangerous during the first few minutes of a shower when the road is just getting wet.

Explain what to do if they get stuck in the snow. This isn’t just for convenience. Heavy snows can make roads impassible, and if your workers are stuck trying to get home from work, these can be effective survival tips:

  • Start by shoveling a path in front and behind the wheels.
  • Spread sand in the path you’ve shoveled. Strips of carpet or roof shingles just in front of the tires gives them something to grip on to.
  • If that fails, rock the vehicle forward and backward in rapid succession until free.

And through it all, think spring. It’s less than 3 months away!

Why It Matters…

  • Winter road conditions greatly increase the chance of accidents.
  • People who aren’t prepared to drive safely in bad winter conditions are a hazard not only to themselves but also to passengers and other motorists.
  • Using the simple techniques described in this safety tip can help your employees keep safe and reach their destinations without accidents.