Help Forum

Help requested posted on 30th November 2010:

Use of Council volunteers

I have been approached by our adult social care team who want to equip their staff with snow chains for their cars so they can reach vulnerable clients in the snow. Do other councils use their own staff for severe weather emergencies or outsource this and if they do use their own staff, what training, equipment do they provide please?

Elaine Hassall
Buckinghamshire County Council

Reply to this request

Response posted on 1st December 2010 by:
Alan Hale
South Gloucestershire Council
T: 01454 863607

Snow chains

Hi Elaine,
As most authorities are heavily in to health and safety and risk assessments - sad as that might be at times - I am surprised that they are just looking to go ahead with this without some form of training.
I have never had occasion to use chains but my understanding is that when you are not on snow they are likely to cause damage to your tyres, thaat's your own tyres of course and indeed I would suggest lessen your road holding on non snow covered roads and I imagine you have to cover some of those to get to the really troublesome areas.
I would have thought that the safest long term option would be to invest in a four wheel drive pool vehicle and if necessary to further fit studded tyres for the severe snow conditions. Thus two sets of tyres.
Having done that then they should in my opinion give training to those who they expect to drive in such adverse conditions.
Most people have had no formal training for driving in such adverse conditions or indeed no formal training beyond passing their test at under 30mph. In am sure that IAM Fleet (Institute of Advanced Motorists, their fleet training arm) would be willing to deliver training at cost or there are probably a number of off road driving centres about.
My professional opinion as a current driving examiner for the IAM and a retired Class one advanced police driving instructor is that you should be concerned for the above reasons.
Best wishes

Response posted on 1st December 2010 by:
Kevin Roseblade
Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership
T: 01242 247039

Snow Chains on Council vehicles

Hi Elaine,
The problem with snow chains is you need snow to use them!
Great if we lived in Scandanavia but not so useful here where snow on the roads can be very localised. An even covering of snow everywhere is fine but as soon as you reach a section of road that has been cleared you have to remove the chains. Otherwise you will damage the chains and quite possibly the vehicle. Some chains can be fitted without jacking up the car. However many require you to jack the vehicle which must be done on smooth, level ground to fit the chains. Hope this helps.

Response posted on 1st December 2010 by:
Amanda Mays
Cambridgeshire County Council
T: 01223 715923

Use of Council volunteers

Hi Elaine,

Although I believe they are legal in the UK for use provided there is lying snow on the road I would advise them that this is not appropriate for most of the south of England. A seasonal change of tyres to winter ones, and some training in how to drive properly in snow would probably be the most effective solution for our weather conditions.

Snow chains must only be used in consistently lying snow at low speeds.

Using them on tarmac, patchy snow or slush damages the road surface and the chains wear quickly broken chains can damage the tyres.

Amanda Mays
Team Leader
Road Safety Engineering
Cambridgeshire County Council
Box CC1309
Castle Court
Cambridge CB3 0AP

Post a response to the above help request by completing the form below:

Your name
Your email
Your telephone (optional)
My response is: