Driving an HGV, lorry or truck takes a lot of care and attention. It’s much different from getting behind the wheel of a hatchback or a van! Therefore, HGV driving safety is always a must. All HGV drivers should be up to speed on basic safety standards and what to bear in mind. However, it never hurts to get a refresher every now and again!
Here are our top 10 safety tips for HGV drivers, which will apply no matter where you drive, and no matter what you may be carrying.
1. Take Regular Breaks
The number one rule for any long-distance driving is that you make sure you break regularly. Tiredness while driving can and will put other people – not just you – at risk. Most HGV driving jobs will demand that you spend several hours at a time on the road, which means you should plan at some stops where you can have a rest.
Consensus on how much you should be resting per job will vary. However, stopping for 15-30 minutes every 3-4 hours should help to keep you alert. Plenty of HGV driver breaks will mean your reaction time and alertness, in particular, are given a chance to reboot.
2. Plan Your Route
Planning your route for any long-haul job is crucial. If you have plenty of HGV driving hours ahead of you, you’re going to need to make sure you know where you’re going. Fix up your sat nav or app and make sure you’ve given yourself enough time to get to where you need to be.
What’s more, always plan for the weather. Is bad weather likely to impact your time of arrival? Factor it into your journey.
3. Secure Your Loads
Never set off on a job unless your load or loads are secured. No matter how good a driver you think you might be, an unsecured load is always at risk of getting damaged, lost, or worse. Make sure you’ve strapped everything in tight, and that you haven’t overloaded your lorry. Overloading, believe it or not, is more likely to cause problems than leaving too much space.
4. Fully Check and Maintain Your Vehicle
Daily vehicle checks are crucial when it comes to running a professional HGV. This means making sure everything is fit for purpose before you head out on a job. Check your tyres, your lights, your mirrors, your suspension – the lot. It shouldn’t take too long, but if the law catches up with you and thinks your vehicle’s less than road safety, you’ll pay dearly for it.
5. Avoid Getting Distracted
Again, this is something that applies to all drivers; however, it’s imperative that HGV professionals always keep alert. All manner of things could distract you. One of the biggest culprits, of course, is the smartphone. Do you really need to make that phone call while on the road? Even if it’s ‘just for a few seconds’, keep your hands off anything other than the vehicle’s controls. Even slight distractions, such as music from an on-board radio, could result in an accident. If you really want to play it safe, simply don’t take risks.
6. Avoid Tailgating
Anyone taking on HGV driving jobs should know the Highway Code like the back of their hand. However, many drivers still fall prey to tailgating every now and again. Want to stay safe while driving an HGV? Don’t tailgate – ever. You should always be keeping a safe distance between the front of your vehicle and the back of the vehicle in front. What if they need to brake suddenly? That could result in disaster for both of you.
7. Curtail Your Speed
It’s understandable that you want to make sure you reach your destination on time. If you’ve planned your route well and have taken into account anything that’s likely to interrupt your journey, then there shouldn’t be any need for you to rush. What we’re saying is, of course, that speeding shouldn’t ever come into mind.
As the old saying goes – speed limits are not targeting for you to reach. If you’re transporting sensitive items, driving at speed is not only going to put them at risk but other road users, too
8. Get an Up-to-Date Medical
Anyone interested in HGV driving jobs should be ready to undertake a regular medical. Check-in with a doctor or specialist and you’ll be given the full lowdown on whether you are fit to get behind the wheel. In most cases, these medicals can be provided by the firm you are working for.
Medicals are important as it means your reflexes and physical condition are judged fairly to prepare for long haul jobs. Any professional HGV firm will want to make sure their drivers attend HGV medicals before they put their key in the ignition. Otherwise, lives, as well as reputations, could be at risk.
9. Use Your Seatbelt!
We really shouldn’t have to list this tip, as it’s something all road users should do – but so many drivers and passengers fail to use their seatbelts. A sudden jolt is all it could take for an HGV driver to seriously injure themselves, externally or internally. Failure to use a seatbelt can claim lives – there is simply no excuse. Clip-in, check your mirrors and drive.
10. Be Conscious of Others
The bottom line when it comes to HGV driving safety is, of course, that you should be self-aware on the road. Your vehicle is going to be far bigger than the majority of road traffic. Anyone with full HGV training will know how to safely manoeuvre large vehicles through traffic. However, it always pays to be mindful of people you are driving alongside.
Think and plan ahead for movements on motorways or busy stretches. Give other people plenty of space, and you will get it in return. No matter how many HGV driver hours you rack up on a job, you shouldn’t ever take your eyes off fellow road users.
We hope you enjoyed reading the blog post and found it helpful. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the latest European HGV driving opportunities, please contact us on 01908 018072; our friendly team at Optimum Driving Group are always happy to help.