Breakdown essentials drivers should have as Storm Otto causes delays

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Travel disruptions are expected until Monday, with the Met Office alerting drivers of high sided vehicles to be extra careful, as wind speeds are set to exceed gusts of 75mph. Experts at Driver Hire Training are also warning that this weekend, drivers must be equipped with essentials in case they break down or get stuck.

With that in mind, the experts suggested some must-haves in a vehicle that could potentially save the driver’s and the passengers’ lives.

A high vis vest

Rule 275 of the Highway Code says if you’re stranded on the motorway, you must exit the vehicle, once it’s safe to do so, and wear high visibility clothing to ensure you can be seen by other drivers.

Richard Owen-Hughes from Driver Hire said: “Leaving your vehicle in clothing which makes you easily visible to other drivers can be is hugely important, especially on busy roads.

“You should also consider exiting the vehicle on the left-hand side and be mindful of wind speed when opening the door.”

He added: “Stormy weather can bring low visibility due to rain or hail and therefore high visibility vests are a must.

“It’s advisable to always have a high vis in your vehicle in case of emergencies, and make sure to pack enough for other passengers.”

Warm clothes

Often, drivers who have broken down can face a long wait to be rescued from the road. Having enough layers and packing protective clothing will help you stay warm.

Richard said: “A warm waterproof coat, waterproof boots, a jumper, gloves, and a hat could be the difference between being freezing in winter temperatures or staying as comfortable as possible.

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“This goes for all passengers, not just the driver, so it’s advisable to have warm clothing packed in the vehicle at all times.”

A torch and batteries

Stormy weather increases the likelihood of vehicles to break down or stop in high winds. Finding yourself broken down on an unlit roadside is a dangerous place to be and increases the chance of a collision.

Make sure to have an industry standard torch with spare batteries to alert any oncoming traffic that you are there.

Richard said: “Having a working torch gives drivers the best chance of being seen by other road users if their vehicle lights have failed. It also allows people to check their own vehicle if in an emergency – I would advise a headtorch to completely free up your hands.”

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Portable phone charger

Whilst stranded, vehicles will often eat through their batteries with hazard lights and charging phones, causing them to go flat. When in trouble, you need to be able call for help.

Richard advised: “Having a multiuse battery pack to charge electrical devices could mean you can still make that call to a helpline and get out of a dangerous situation.”

He added: “With the weather becoming increasingly dangerous, drivers must be more aware than usual and take extra precautions when it comes to safety.”

A de-icer and scraper

Should the temperature drop, having clear vision is hugely important when concentrating on the road, even more so when the vehicle is subject to poor weather.

Richard said: “An icy windscreen is extremely dangerous, and in paired with extreme wind and rain, a de icer and scraper is essential for keeping your vision clear when on the road.”

He added: “Not only will this keep you and other road users safe, it is also a legal requirement to clear your windscreen before setting off, and you can face considerably high fines if you do not have clear visibility.

“It would also be beneficial to bring plenty of water, any medication, a thermos with a warm drink, and some high energy snacks if there’s the chance you might get stuck for a while.”

Monitor conditions

They also say, before setting off, HGV drivers are advised to monitor the weather conditions of the areas they’ll be passing through, as wind as strong as today can overturn the vehicle, putting the driver and others in danger.

Richard said: “For those employed in delivery driving where timeframes are often placed on deliveries, it’s important to continually monitor weather, and liaise with your fleet managers to divert to safer routes or halt driving until conditions improve.”

Other vehicle drivers, as advised by the Highway Code 233, should keep well back to avoid being hit by turbulence caused by high sided vehicles.

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