Top safety tips for HGV drivers

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Driving a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) is a challenging and demanding job. HGV drivers are entrusted with transporting large and heavy loads which requires a high level of skill and safety awareness. As HGVs are involved in a third of fatal motorway accidents, safety should always be a top priority. This will help to protect yourself and your vehicle but also ensure the safety of others on the road.

HGV drivers regularly undergo health and safety training due to the Driver CPC requirement. However, as this only needs to be renewed every 5 years, you must regularly familiarise yourself with the latest safety advice.

We’ve collated some top safety tips, specifically for HGV drivers, to help you navigate the roads safely as we head into the winter months.

Carry out daily walkaround checks

HGV drivers are legally required to conduct daily walkaround checks of their vehicle to ensure it’s safe to drive. Any faults or defects must be reported immediately. Areas that need to be checked daily include the mirrors, brakes, lights, and tyres. The DVSA can conduct roadside checks and may ask for a record of your walkaround check, so you must never skip this safety process.

Proper vehicle maintenance can help to prevent breakdowns and accidents, so you should regularly get your HGV serviced to ensure your vehicle is safe and ready for its annual MOT.  

Take regular breaks 

Driving for long periods of time is the norm for HGV drivers but it’s important that you take breaks when needed to combat tiredness. Brake estimates that 10-20% of all road crashes in the UK are caused by driver fatigue and these accidents are more likely to be fatal when an HGV is involved.

UK law dictates that HGV drivers must not drive for more than 4.5 hours without taking a 45-minute break and they can only drive for a maximum of 10 hours in one day. By taking these regular breaks, you can stay alert and safe on the road.

Monitoring these breaks is also important, so Fleet Managers should maintain logbooks, record hours of work and rest and ensure medical assessments are up to date as this will help to prevent dangerous driving caused by fatigue.

Plan ahead

As HGV drivers are often required to travel long distances, it’s essential that routes are planned. You should always make sure you know exactly where you’re going, where you can stop for a break and give yourself enough time to get to your destination. Forward thinking allows HGV drivers to choose routes with no height restrictions, helping to prevent bridge strikes which can be costly and hazardous.

Planning ahead is particularly important during winter as weather conditions can change quickly, making journeys more dangerous than normal, so it’s sensible to be prepared with alternative route options.

In addition, low temperatures and icy roads can increase the chance of an emergency or breakdown, so you should always make sure your HGV is well-equipped with essential items like a blanket, food and drink.

Avoid overloading your HGV

HGV drivers are responsible for securing the load on their vehicle and must avoid exceeding the maximum weights. It’s vital that cargo stays in place during transit, so use high-quality straps, chains, and binders to secure the load and aim for a balanced weight distribution.

Overloading your HGV will make it less stable, difficult to steer and increase the time it’ll take to stop, which can be fatal on the road. Additional strain is also put on your tyres, so you’re at greater risk of them overheating and wearing out. Not only is this dangerous, but it’ll be expensive to fix.

Defensive driving

Defensive driving techniques can improve the safety of HGVs as you’ll be more prepared for the unexpected. During winter, when roads may be icy, this is even more important as stopping distances are estimated to be 10 times more than in normal conditions. The larger size and weight of an HGV already means it requires more time to stop and this should be considered whenever you’re out on the road. As part of your safety precautions, HGV drivers should also:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Maintain a safe distance between other vehicles
  • Follow the speed limits and reduce your speed, if necessary, in poor weather conditions
  • Be careful of your blind spots and check mirrors before changing lanes of making a turn

Safety is the number one priority

It’s vitally important that HGV drivers abide by the rules of the road and combat dangerous driving to keep yourself and others safe. You should ensure that you’re always vigilant behind the wheel but also regularly check and maintain your HGV, so you know it’s safe to drive. If you have any concerns about your personal wellbeing or the condition of your vehicle, then report them to your Fleet Manager straightaway.

Safe driving practices not only prevent accidents but can also make you more fuel-efficient and improve the lifespan of your HGV, saving your business money in the long-term.

At Right Fuel Card we offer a range of products which are designed to help HGV drivers with their fuel expenditure. Our fuel cards can be used at a variety of HGV-friendly sites and there’s no need to keep hold of receipts as you can monitor all transactions through our online account management system.

Contact our team today to discuss your fuel card options or use our quick comparison tool to find the Right fuel card for you.

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David James
Sales Director

David has worked in the fuel card industry since 2008. His financial insights have been featured in various publications, such as The Sun, the Daily Express and The Yorkshire Times where he provides money-saving tips for motorists. David is passionate about charity work and regularly raises money through running events, including the London Marathon and the Leeds Abbey Dash.

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