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Associate, North America Environmental Risk Consulting

While the weather has been a bit wild lately, your employees’ driving shouldn’t be. Especially as we move into the winter months, helping employees brush up on their defensive driving skills is good investment.

Inclement weather conditions on the roads bring a lot of special challenges and potential danger, especially for an inexperienced driver. There are certain skills a defensive driver develops in order to stay safe during adverse conditions. The number one skill is judgement -- being able to make safe and smart decisions based on weather and road conditions. The defensive driver has the skills necessary to keep their own vehicle under control in adverse conditions and can anticipate errors made by other drivers.

Let’s test your knowledge now.

What conditions reduce traction?
a. Gravel
b. Slush
c. Rain
d. All of the Above

The answer is D — all the above. Knowing how to properly drive through these conditions is critical, you must slow down and steer without jerky movements. All these conditions have the potential of making a driver slip and lose control. Gravel, for example, can act like loose ball bearings under tires.

Let’s not forget about some hidden road risks, like black ice. Once it snows or rains in freezing conditions, black ice can form in shady areas and under bridges or overpasses. It gets its name from its highly transparent nature allowing the black road to be seen below the ice. It looks invisible on pavement and is almost impossible to see.

When faced with any of these road conditions, slowing down lessens the risks of an accident but, if a vehicle can’t get the needed grip on the road and a mishap occurs, traveling at a slower speed could also reduce overall damage.

Rocking to the rhythm of the rain
Rain already contributes to a challenging drive. It impairs vision and reduces traction on tires. Drivers can even lose power steering and become hydro locked. And what if a radio is added to the weather mix? Who isn’t guilty of playing loud music while driving? Or changing songs and stations to find the right travel jam? A study by Newfoundland's Memorial University, however, found that loud music can slow reaction time by 20%.

Driving without music isn’t much fun but in adverse weather conditions drivers need to stay focused on the road. Remember to slow down, be cautious, use emergency flashers when necessary, and be prepared to get off the road until conditions improve.

A spill, a slip, a hospital trip
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that the leading cause of occupational fatalities is vehicle-related crashes. To actively reduce motor vehicle crashes, it is important for individuals, corporations, small businesses, and everyone with a license to attend defensive driving courses. Employers pay significant costs associated with motor vehicle accidents such as: 

  • Liability risks and legal expenses
  • Lost time and decreased productivity
  • Increased insurance
  • Workers’ compensation

To help drivers make better decisions when driving in inclement weather, investing in defensive driving education can help drivers arrive safely at their destination. By equipping employees with safe driving tips and know how, companies can take positive steps in decreasing motor vehicle accidents and traffic incidents, reducing insurance premiums, minimizing potential liability risks, and protecting business assets.

To learn more about defensive driving and the skills needed to stay safe on the road, read AXA XL’s Environmental Risk Bulletin -- Defensive Driving – Adverse Conditions.

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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

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