Winter Drive to Work – What You Need to Know

By Fiona Burns
08 Nov 2021
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How do you ensure your employees take the necessary safety precautions when they commute to work this winter?

As previous years data has shown, the October clock change saw an increase of about 20 road crashes per day. At the same time, the average commute to work has constantly increased over the years, by 5 minutes in 2019 compared to a decade earlier.

In 2021 more employees have returned to their workplace as furlough ended. This also means they have not had to drive to work for extended periods of time over the last two years.

safe driving for work

When you consider these factors, they paint a bigger picture of safe driving for work purposes this year. Some employees returning to their commute to work in the winter season means they’ll face challenges such as icy roads for the first time in two years.

Giving them advice and support now can make a difference to both their safety and performance this winter.

Call our Health & Safety team to ask for advice on how to better support your workforce to stay safe on the roads, on 01455 858 132

Who’s responsibility is it when employees drive to work?

As an employer, you could ask yourself what your responsibilities are when workers commute to work using their own vehicles. Even if the employee does not drive to or for work, you have a moral duty to share relevant safety information with all staff that may be affected.

Imagine your employee ends up injured in a motorway crash, with their vehicle damaged beyond repair. They may have to take lengthy sick leave and look at buying a new car. If they were at fault, they could even lose their driving licence. All of this could affect their ability to get to work, and to perform well, for an extended period of time.

You, as a business owner, can play a positive role in promoting driving safety awareness in the workplace. Consider the circumstances if your staff have worked from home for a lengthy period over the last two years. So much has changed - why take the risks when you can pre-empt them?

Driving for business purposes

We have seen business owners unaware they need to check what type of car insurance their workers have.

An employee will need a different kind of car insurance driving to work or driving for work.

Comprehensive insurance will usually cover them commuting to one workplace every day, or when the employee needs to be there. With hybrid working more prevalent now, daily working patterns have changed for a number of employees.

However, workers need business insurance if attending meetings in various locations or visiting venues for work or training purposes. Also, employers need to check if business mileage is included. An MOT is also required for vehicles over 3 years old, as absence may invalidate car insurance.

Employers must check that their staff hold business insurance for such work-related trips. If workers are involved in a road traffic accident the Police will enquire about the nature of their trip. And if they drove without business insurance, the law makes the employer also responsible.

Avoid fines and safety risks due to faulty car tyres

In winter more than any other season, faulty car tyres pose a serious safety issue. With the possibility of snow and ice looming, losing grip on the road can easily cause road accidents. Therefore, the likelihood commuters get stopped and checked by the police on their way to work increases.

Car insurance driving to work

If your employees get caught driving a vehicle with faulty tires, they risk a hefty fine of £2,500, along with 3 points on their licence for each defective wheel. This can take a toll on their financial situation, their mental health and their ability to travel to their workplace.

Let us look next at what you can do to remind your workers about road safety…

Help your employees commute safely

As winter sets in, you can support your employees who are driving to work. The simplest way to do this is to send relevant information by email as part of your internal communication.

Start by advising them how to plan for their journey and for the unexpected. Remind them to check the latest weather forecast, adapt their driving to the conditions, and allow extra time as to avoid the need to rush. The increased number of accidents throughout the winter months and weather conditions generally cause lengthy tail backs.

Encourage them to put together a winter safety kit in their car, including:

  • Warm blankets and clothes
  • Snacks and water
  • First aid kit
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Snow shovel
  • High visibility vest

They should also make sure their mobile phone is fully charged, and, where possible, carry spare batteries with them. This could prove crucial if they end up stranded and snowed in on a dark road or a remote location.

They could also share their location on a map application with a trusted close person, such as their next of kin. Such apps will share their latest known location. So, in case their mobile phone battery dies, this information could also be used by emergency services.

It’s a good idea to also inform your workers of the fines they risk. Check with them again that they hold the right type of car insurance. With the increased risk of road traffic accidents, you want to make sure you avoid situations that could damage both their health, and your business.

Speak to a Croner expert

With the staff shortages that many industries face this year, the last thing businesses need is absences due to road safety incidents. Don’t wait until something happens, when you can act now and give your workers relevant road safety tips.

Call a Croner health & safety expert today, for further advice on how to manage your staff’s commute to work, on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns has practical experience in Health & Safety and Risk Management having worked for major insurer prior to joining Croner.

She has gained extensive helpline experience offering competent advice and timely support to large number of clients, in various industries and at all levels.  Completed the NEBOSH General Certificate, also passed NEBOSH Environmental Diploma Unit A, (IOSH Managing Environmental responsibilities). NEBOSH Fire and Risk Management Certificate, FPA Advance Fire Training, NCRQ Diploma – Distinction currently completing IPD and volunteering for Community project in Atherstone also as a Dementia support worker with CWPT.

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Fiona Burns

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