Being a full licensed holder and a professional fleet driver are two different things. Several issues have arisen with increasing frequency which
highlights the benefits of training in a realistic setting during fleet driver training over the last few weeks. Practical training sessions on road have shown the following areas need revising.
These points will be particularly useful to drivers of cars, vans, mini buses and drivers of light commercial vehicles.
Driving in Wet Weather
It takes longer to stop
When driving on wet or damp roads it takes longer to stop. It’s essential that you adapt your driving style to allow for increased stopping distances and reduced tyre grip. Yes, advances have been made in tyre technology in recent years, but it still takes longer to stop in the wet.
Keep Glass Clear
Be prepared for condensation and rain at all times this year it hasn’t been good and it’s not going to be for some time.
Clean the windscreen, windows, your lights and your mirrors.
Check your windscreen wiper blades and replace them if worn. I know it’s normally done in the autumn but this year is different.
Keep dry cloths inside your cab or car for drying off windows, there are some excellent products out nowadays for this but dry cloths still work.
Remember to top up the washer bottle; it is especially helpful on misty days.
Use your hot air demisting settings in the vehicle when necessary so as to keep the glass clear from condensation.
When Driving in wet conditions
Sudden showers of a severity we haven’t seen in a while are a feature of this year’s weather, so keep in mind the following;
- If you have to open windows to remove any condensation do so it’s safer.
- Using your dipped headlights immediately when showers occur highlights your position to other road users and makes you more visible.
- Think about reducing your speed if the wipers cannot work fast enough to keep the windscreen clear in a downpour, even on a motorway.
- In a heavy shower spray from other vehicles will be worse and will make driving difficult.
- At night on poorly lit roads reduce your speed.
· In rain allow twice the braking distance.
- Look out for water on the road.
- Decelerate if your steering suddenly feels light, Keep off the brakes, your vehicle may be aquaplaning. Aquaplaning is where you get a build up of water between your tyres and the road. This condition affects your steering and braking. By decelerating you will regain traction, but it will take time.
- A lot of drivers drive through water on the side of the road. This is a dangerous practice; if the puddle is deep your wheels in the puddle will slow down as they get rid of water making you swerve. That’s why you may feel a pull to your left side.
- Check your tyres periodically including the tyre pressures. Reduced pressures will cause aquaplaning to happen at lower speeds. Irish and UK tyre regulations state a minimum of 1.6mm is the minimum depth allowable anything less than 3mm in current conditions you’re taking a risk.
- Don’t forget to check the spare.
Floods have been a constant feature on the roads this year.
- Do not enter flood water unless you know the depth. As a rule of thumb if it’s deeper than the centre point of the front wheels it’s too deep.
- If you have to drive through drive slowly in first gear, keep the accelerator pressed and slip the clutch to control the speed. Do not change gears when in the flood.
- What you’re trying to do is prevent a wave of water being thrown up into the engine bay which will interfere with vehicle electrics and may enter the air intake.
- When you have traversed the flood test your brakes by lightly pressing them, this gets rid off any water on the brakes by creating heat which aids the evaporation process.
It’s well-known that trained drivers are the safest drivers on the road. There are many advantages of having attained an advanced driving qualification. You will save lives and, you will also protect reputations and lower costs for your employers both now and in the future. If you wish to become an advanced fleet driver and learn all about fleet driving safety, just sign up for a course that teaches you how to drive safely and be a better driver. Check out our Professional Driver Course where you will learn about advanced and defensive driving and how to implement it. This is not an on-line or correspondence course it’s practical. You will also gain a recognised qualification which will assist your current or future employment prospects.