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‘Check it, don’t chance it’: Stay safe on the road when the clocks change

Industry views | 22 October 2019

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Statistics show there’s a spike in accidents on the roads when the UK moves from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) each year. Our Group HSQ Director, Dean Clamp, talks about this and how we can all stay safe at this time of year.

As the clocks change at the end of October, we wave goodbye to autumn and move into winter. Experienced drivers will know that this period of the year is trickier than most out on the road, with reduced visibility and changing weather conditions introducing more hazards.

Research from the RAC Foundation has revealed that the annual October clock change brings an increase of around 20 accidents-per-day on UK roads in which someone is hurt.

By analysing police data from between 2012-2017, they found that in the two weeks after the clocks go back, personal injury claim (PIC) collisions go up by an average of 278 when compared to the previous fortnight. It’s a similar story for pedestrian incidents too, with the same research indicating that collisions resulting in a pedestrian casualty increase by more than 11%.

As a business, Wincanton covers millions of miles on UK roads every year. Because of this, we are committed to keeping the public and our drivers as safe as possible. It’s an obligation we take very seriously.

Daylight saving brings a unique set of challenges for all drivers. As well as dealing with changing weather conditions, we must adjust to making regular journeys at dusk or in the dark; something many of us have not done for around 5-6 months.

Our advice to our own drivers this time of year - whether they be using personal vehicles, company cars or any of our fleet of specialist LGVs - is to be ready for this sudden change. The best way to ensure your journey is as safe and smooth as possible is to prepare ahead of time and adapt.

This can be as simple as ensuring your daily routine leaves you feeling fresh and alert for both morning and evening driving - the times of day the clock changes affect us most – or by checking ahead to make sure your usual route has not been impacted by adverse weather conditions. Although many of us use the same roads every day and believe that we can autopilot ourselves to work or home, seasonal changes can bring new challenges.

Our experienced drivers and transport managers abide by this all year round. Wincanton’s approach has always been ‘check it, don’t chance it’, which we communicate to all of our staff; not just those behind the wheel as part of their daily job.

Checking vehicles is especially important at this time of year. Headlamp bulbs can fail at any time, but if you haven’t been actively using them for a long period, you may not notice until it’s too late. This can leave you at risk of a fine or, even worse, an accident.

Likewise, effective windscreen wipers and washer fluid become more important for clearing dirt and spray from the roads, while making sure your tyres have the necessary tread is essential at a time when grip can be reduced.

When conditions reach extreme levels, for example heavy snowfall, the best advice is to avoid all unnecessary journeys. Even our own specially trained, vastly experienced drivers receive this message; while those that do venture out onto the roads to make essential trips benefit from dedicated planning and contingency measures we put in place.

This November, Wincanton’s annual Safety Week will focus on the management of road risk. During this period, staff across our sites will take part in a number of activities, ranging from practical demonstrations through to workshops and talks; all of which will promote safe driving and managing risk on the road.

We all have a shared responsibility to keep the roads as safe as possible, especially at a time in which risks are higher.

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