The Importance Of Road Safety For HGV Drivers

The demand for Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers is currently high and is only set to increase over the coming years. With the promise of good salaries, flexibility and job security, there has never been a better time to qualify as an HGV driver. That being said, it is a job that comes with a considerable amount of responsibility and risk if correct protocols and safety procedures are not met. HGV drivers must contend with long working hours, stressful driving conditions and the physical demands of being behind the wheel for long periods. Here are some safety tips so you can benefit from this lucrative career path.

Check The Weather Conditions

Before setting off on a job, it is always advisable to check the weather forecast. Drastic weather, such as heavy rain, snow and high-speed wind, can severely impact road conditions. By checking the forecast, you can be prepared for the journey ahead. You can then adjust your driving techniques to suit the prevailing weather conditions; for instance, in the event of heavy rain, you should reduce your speed and leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front.

Secure Your Load

Following safe load-securing procedures is vital. Firstly, ensure that your goods are secure within the vehicle - whether you use locks, straps or bars, it is a critical part of safety to check the goods are strapped in to prevent shifting and damage in transit. Furthermore, regular inspections should be conducted to check the integrity of the restraints and make any necessary adjustments. Your safety should be a priority, so don’t hesitate to contact your supervisor if you have any questions or concerns.

Stick To The Speed Limit

Sticking to the speed limit is important for any road user. However, it is especially crucial given the size and weight of HGV vehicles. For example, in the UK in 2019, 251 people were killed, 1,111 seriously injured, and 4,172 slightly injured in road accidents involving HGVs. When you consider that speeding is a major contributory factor in around one third of all road traffic accidents, the importance of sticking to the speed limit as an HGV driver becomes all the more imperative.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks is crucial for HGV drivers. Fatigue is a significant contributing factor to accidents involving heavy goods vehicles. Long hours behind the wheel can lead to drowsiness and decreased alertness, impairing your ability to make quick decisions and respond to hazards effectively. Regular breaks at rest stops will help you stay fresh, alert and focused on the road. Additionally, getting out of your vehicle, stretching your legs and getting some fresh air can reduce the risk of lower back pain and poor posture caused by sitting for long periods.

Plan Your Route

Planning your route before setting out on a job can be beneficial for numerous reasons. Firstly, if you plan your route in advance, you can avoid problematic stretches of road that may be too narrow or feature weight restrictions that may pose difficulties for your HGV. However, having access to the internet for real-time travel updates can also be highly beneficial. For instance, even with a well-planned traffic guidance scheme, road works or accidents can severely disrupt your journey, so keep up to date with the traffic news.

Overtake With Caution

Generally speaking, you should avoid overtaking when driving an HGV. However, if overtaking is necessary, it must be done with the utmost caution. Overtaking can be a hazardous manoeuvre at the best of times, so only do so when you are certain it is safe. Consider factors such as road conditions, visibility, and the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles. Above all, exercise caution and patience, as overtaking without proper judgement can cause serious accidents.

Avoid Tailgating

Tailgating - when a driver follows the car in front too closely - is one of the leading causes of road accidents. Stopping abruptly is more challenging for HGV drivers, given the sheer size and weight of their vehicles. Therefore, while tailgating is always fervently discouraged for all road users, it is all the more important for tankers, lorries and trucks. Maintaining a safe following distance allows for sufficient reaction time, reducing the chances of rear-end collisions and providing a buffer zone for unexpected manoeuvres.

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