Graham Hurdle's blog: 11 October 2011- When will drivers learn to drive in adverse weather?
11 October 2011
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
Adverse weather! It comes every year without fail, but always seems to take British road users by surprise. When will drivers ever learn how to drive safely?
Last week we had a welcome heat wave here in the UK, this week we have gale force winds and rain. There is a saying "If you don't like the British weather, wait 5 minutes for it to change".
So as we go through the autumn into winter, the one thing we can be sure of is that, at some point soon, the weather will cause traffic chaos!
How long will it be before there is a multi vehicle motorway crash in fog? When it does happen we will have a police officer saying to a news reporter "Drivers were travelling too fast and not keeping sufficient distance between them and the vehicle ahead" or another police officer on another day saying drivers didn't heed the warning not to drive in high winds or heavy snow.
Every year it happens and every year we hear the same advice and reasons for the crashes.
The problem is we all think it won't happen to us, and for those unfortunate people who have been involved in an incident in bad weather, they usually put it down to 'the bad weather'! Or, they just say it was an accident; the definition of an accident being that there was nothing anyone could have done about it.
During last winter I was providing consultancy to a company and when it first started snowing before Christmas their accident rates increased. I did a cost analysis of the vehicle repairs, including the hiring of replacement vehicles, staff sickness following road crashes, management time etc. The study showed that they would have had a healthier bottom line if they'd stopped driving for that very short period of time when it was dangerous to be on the roads.
Of course it's difficult to suggest that someone shuts their delivery or sales team down when the weather is nasty, because in the real world it is not possible to stop these activities. However, it is possible to think outside the box.
Deliveries could be scheduled to a time that would reduce the impact of the adverse weather. For example, if there is dense fog in the north of England on Tuesday, couldn't those deliveries be done on Monday or Wednesday? Do your sales staff need to meet the client in person or could a telephone call or web conference achieve the same outcome?
Because let's remember. One thing works in your favour when the weather is bad, and that's the fact that your customers or prospects are having exactly the same problems. But because "you", their supplier, is continuing to service them, believing that this is what's expected of you, they then feel that they should also carry on as normal. But put everyone in the same room and jointly you'd all agree it would be more sensible not to drive!
So next time your gut feel says that it's not safe to send your drivers out, be strong enough to make a stand because, like anything in life, strong leaders tend to be respected for their decisions and their actions followed by others.
And if you have no option but to drive in adverse weather, ask yourself - are you and your drivers trained in driving in those conditions? Think back to when you were learning to drive. None of your lessons and certainly your driving test were conducted in adverse weather - in fact the irony is that driving lessons get cancelled in poor weather. I wonder why?
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