Paul Dyson, owner of Yorkshire-based private gritting company Gritting Direct has experienced his busiest month to date due to extensive snowfall throughout January in Yorkshire.
His work helps keep essential public sector and private businesses continue to operate safely and provide their essential services in adverse weather conditions. The private gritting firm has contracts with several primary schools, doctors surgeries, HSBC and Huddersfield manufacturing firm, Cummings.
64-year-old Paul – known as Mr Grit by his friends and family, said: “This season we’ve been very busy. It’s caught a lot of people out. The most important thing for us is that people don’t make unnecessary journeys as this slows us and the council down when we’re clearing the roadways.”
Our aim is and always has been to keep people safe during the winter months, so if your journey isn’t 100% necessary, the safest thing to do is stay at home.”
With more snowfall and icy conditions predicted for the rest of January, here’s Paul’s five top practical tips for preparing to drive in the snow:
1. Have appropriate footwear with you. Not necessarily on your feet, but in your vehicle.
We’ve all been there. You underestimate the severity of the snow/ice on the roads and find yourself in a position where you might need to finish your journey on foot, or even push your vehicle uphill. Make sure you pack some sturdy shoes with good grip, just in case.
2. Make sure you have warm clothing and bottles of water. If you get stranded, you need basic food supplies.
With the snowfall in early January, many drivers ended up stuck in huge queues of non-moving traffic. There were reports of people delivering bottles of water on foot to desperate drivers. Make sure you have warm clothing, drinks, and snacks in the car to keep you going if you do get stuck. Snow and ice immediately increase the risk of accidents tenfold, so you never know when traffic will come to a standstill.
3. Make sure the journey is necessary. Can it wait? It takes gritters longer to get out and get to jobs when the roads are blocked. Meaning people are unsafe for a longer time.
Always consider whether the journey that you’re making is essential. Fewer people on the roads when it’s snowing means less chance of having an accident. It also makes creates a bigger challenge for gritting companies who need to cover long distances in a short timeframe.
If you can make your journey on foot or wait until the snow and ice are cleared, that’s always the best option. Equally, if your employer is expecting you to turn up for work but you don’t feel safe making the journey, make sure you communicate this and come to an alternative agreement. Read more about your snow day rights here.
4. Have you got enough fuel for your journey? Your journey will take longer if you have to stop for fuel.
If you happen to spot that snow is forecast, and you know you’ll still need to drive – make sure your fuel is topped up so you can get from A to B as smoothly as possible and minimise your time on the road.
5. Don’t panic – panic makes a challenging situation worse. Try and stay calm.
When you’re driving in the snow, you need to be able to think calmly and rationally. Panic can inhibit our ability to react rationally. If you feel yourself panicking, pull over and only continue driving when you feel safe to do so.
Paul also recommends using rock salt on your footpath and driveway if you know snow is forecast and you need to make an essential journey.