With winter around the corner, now is a challenging time of year for fleet managers and their vehicles. Not only do adverse weather conditions make long-haul driving even more difficult, but the low temperatures take their toll on the physical vehicles themselves, meaning it’s more important than ever to ensure drivers are fully equipped with all the essential items they need should they experience a vehicle breakdown.
Whether you’re left stuck by the side of the road or stranded in an isolated spot, the aftermath of experiencing a commercial vehicle breakdown is never a pleasant one.
What do I do now? Who do I call? Will someone be able to get to me? How long will it be before someone can help me?
These are all the questions anyone would be asking themselves. But when a breakdown happens in the depths of the British winter, there’s one more very important question to consider too.
Do I have everything I need to keep me safe until help arrives?
With that in mind we’ve put together a quick checklist to help pack together your breakdown kit essentials.
Here are our suggestions:
1. Ice scraper and de-icer
Although these might seem like basic items, they’re certainly winter breakdown kit essentials.
This is because it’s a legal requirement to keep your front and rear windscreen clear of snow and ice before driving again.
But in winter weather conditions, you may have needed to do this before setting off on your route anyway. As a result, it’s always best to keep both items in the vehicle ahead of the return journey – or in the event of being stranded somewhere, with the windscreen frosting over.
2. Reflective warning triangles
Some commercial vehicles may already be carrying a warning triangle as part of their fleets’ safety guidelines, however it’s actually always best to double up and always carry two of these per vehicle. That way should a breakdown occur, one triangle can be placed at the front of the vehicle and the other can go at the back, offering a full view of passing traffic that a vehicle could be obstructing their route.
3. Blankets and warm clothing
Keeping your body temperature up is absolutely key when you’re stuck alone in a vehicle with no power. It can get really cold really quickly, and with the UK known for experiencing heavy rain, thunderstorms and snow, not wrapping up as quickly as possible could leave you seriously ill.
4. First aid kit
You can buy pre-packed kits or make your own, whichever you’d prefer, but a basic kit should always include sterile cleansing wipes, latex powder-free gloves, sticking plasters in various sizes, scissors, a resuscitation face shield, sterile dressings, micropore tape, and several bandages in different sizes.
5. A portable phone battery charger
Breaking down is one thing, but having your phone die on you too can make a situation even worse, as it could mean you’re left unable to call for help.
That’s why a portable phone charger is a great essential item to keep in a commercial vehicle cab. It’s ideal when it comes to powering a mobile phone back up, but when you’re stranded in a place with no signal, it might mean the next item in your kit will be the next best thing.
6. A high-visibility jacket
Whilst hi-vis clothing clothing won’t necessarily keep you any warmer, it will help keep you that extra bit safer should you need to leave the vehicle in the dark.
For example, if you’re stuck in an isolated location with no phone signal, your only option may be to walk to the nearest house, shop or café to call for help. When doing this, of course, it’s essential that you can be seen by other motorists and road users so that you’re not missed.
7. Waterproof boots with good grip
For some commercial drivers, steel-capped boots may already be a part of their daily workwear uniforms. Though when it comes to winter breakdown essentials, having an extra pair on hand is never a bad thing.
A sturdy pair of rubber wellington boots or good walking shoes will keep your feet dry (and warm) if you have to walk through snow, ice or flood water, so it’s definitely worth choosing soles with a good grip.
8. A road map
It might sound like a flash from the past, but we’ve all become so reliant on sat navs and Google Maps that many of us would struggle to navigate our way around without them.
But, if your mobile phone has no signal and you find yourself needing to find your own way somewhere, a real-life road map could prove pretty invaluable.
9. Food, snacks and drinks
Most commercial drivers will be used to taking long journeys, so the thought of packing some snacks might not be a new one.
In winter however, there are some items which may be better to drop into your kits though, such as a flask full of a hot drink or soup, some protein bars and even high-fibre snacks which will keep you full until you know help is on the way.
10. A torch (with some spare batteries)
Commercial drivers can find themselves in some pretty rural locations, and the thought of being stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, is not a nice one.
Carrying a good old-fashioned battery powered torch means you’re not left worrying about your phone battery dying or hunting around in the dark for the rest of your breakdown kit. It also means you can safely identify yourself to other road users, and flag down a recovery operator when they reach you at the scene.
We’ve got you covered
As one of the leading vehicle rescue and recovery operators in the country, we completely understand that there’s never a convenient time to experience a commercial vehicle accident. Winter adds extra complications to vehicle rescues, so that’s why our priority will always be to get the job done right, always.
Egertons are the specialist of choice for so many fleet operators today, stemming from breakdown recovery to specialist assistance, and our sophisticated triage process allows us to deploy the exact right vehicles to a scene first time. This is supported by our 24-hour control room, and having invested in industry leading software, we can seamlessly track the progress of all our vehicles and allocate jobs straight to the recovery technicians.
Combine this process with our 300-strong fleet, vast range of equipment available on hand and the technology it is equipped with, you can rest assured you’re in the best of hands.
We’re ready when you are.