Rain, snow, ice, high winds – winter has certainly arrived. But that can’t stop the UK’s tradesmen and professionals from carrying on doing their jobs. And while life, and work, must go on, it’s important that drivers do so in safety.
With that in mind Fiat Professional, which builds the popular Fullback pick-up, has teamed up with leading road safety advisor Paul Ripley to issue a Top 10 list of winter driving tips to help van users stay safe in poor weather.
With or without the extra driver’s assistance offered by the Fiat Fullback – which comes with four wheel drive as standard – the advice makes good sense for all drivers setting out on the road this winter.
Paul Ripley’s Top 10 winter driving tips:
Match speed to conditions
Common sense tells us this is a key safe driving requirement in winter. Your overall safety and survival is enhanced by slowing down and using higher gears to aid traction when necessary.
Too much speed on a slippery surface may result in a skid but with the traction support systems this is easily managed by coming off the accelerator. Generally this will remove the cause.
Look for standing surface water and slow down on approach if you can. When aquaplaning, braking has no effect so come off the accelerator, hold the steering wheel tightly and when grip returns, point your wheels in the right direction.
Driving on ice
In this situation the steering feels light. If you slide at 10mph then try to drive at say 4mph. Where possible, use engine braking. The correct use of very low speed is crucial.
4x4s offer far better grip in snow conditions but it doesn’t make drivers invincible. Respect the need to maintain traction and control by always ensuring a safe speed.
Braking distances in snow or ice conditions can be far greater than anticipated so extend separation distances greatly. If practical and possible, use engine braking to lose speed smoothly.
Are the roads icy?
If you’ve had to scrape ice from your vehicle then it’s fair to assume the roads will be in the same condition. Always link ice to lower road speeds.
Smooth is safer
Never snatch the steering or make abrupt use of the brakes or accelerator – be smooth and gentle with the vehicle’s controls.
ABS brakes on ice
Be aware that using ABS on slick ice / packed snow doesn’t offer the same stopping advantages. Consider using engine braking and always brake much earlier in such treacherous conditions.
Too close for comfort?
To aid safety on wet winter roads, increase following distances by at least twice what is normal and in snow and ice conditions, by at least 10 times. Always try to create a cocoon of safe space.
“For most professionals, staying at home is not an option,” says Richard Chamberlain, Country Manager, Fiat Professional. “Many van drivers are like the fourth emergency service, assisting in terms of sudden plumbing or electrical work, or delivery drivers.
“The Fullback is the ultimate commercial vehicle from Fiat with true 4×4 capability and low range locking differentials to assist when driving in poor weather. And by adding a box body, owners can ensure their tools and equipment are safely protected to.”
The Fiat Fullback SX is powered by a 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine producing 150hp and 380Nm of torque yet returns combined-cycle fuel economy of 40.9mpg (6.9L/100km) and CO2 emissions of 180g/km. The standard SX transmission comprises a six-speed manual gearbox with on-demand four-wheel drive with three electrically-selected settings: 2H, 4H and 4L.
The LX and Cross versions increase power to 180hp and torque to 430Nm, while the full-time four-wheel drive system has four electrically-controlled settings: 2H, 4H plus 4HLc and 4LLc with a locking central differential for improved traction. Five-speed automatic transmission is also available on LX and Cross versions. Official combined-cycle fuel economy figure is 39.8mpg (7.1L/100km) while CO2 emissions are 186g/km.
The Fiat Fullback starts at £21,695 for the SX version, rising to £26,495 for the Cross version.