1.) Ensure your truck is safe to drive
You should inspect your truck on a regular basis and especially before embarking on any trip. Make sure you check the following:
Tyres (pressure, depth and wheel nut indicators are aligned)
Fuel tanks and caps
Any coupling gear
Make sure these are all in the best working condition or at a good level to ensure that your journey will run smoothly and you wont be hit with any unwanted fines or breakdowns.
2.) Reduce blind spots
Driving a HGV vehicle carrying huge containers or driving a vehicle that is towing restricts your vision because as you know, they do not have rear windows or interior mirrors. Statistics indicate that other vehicles approaching blind spots cause many truck related accidents.
To make sure these accidents don’t happen to you on the road we would recommend adding some blind sport mirrors on your next purchase. These will help improve your ability to see all from different angles.
3.) Plan safety routes and take breaks
When choosing a route be sure to choose one that has less vehicle traffic and less pedestrians for a smoother journey. Also choose a route that is familiar to you as it may make you feel more confortable knowing an area that you’re driving through.
HGV drivers can drive for 9 hours a day maximum and you must legally take a 45-minute break every 4.5 hours of continuous driving. You may break this down to shorter breaks (one being 15 minutes and the second break being 30 minute minimum) to fall within EU driver regulations.
Make sure you give yourself a good enough break, don’t sit there scrolling on your phone, get out stretch your legs and move around. Remember there is no set maximum amount of breaks you should take, so as soon as you start to feel tired or restless pull over in a safe place such as a lorry park or service area, open the window or even better get out a of the cab and get some fresh air before continuing your drive.
4.) Ensure your load is safe
Being the driver of a HGV vehicle transporting goods it is your responsibility to ensure your load is safe to drive with. Before starting your journey always be sure to leave yourself 10 minutes to double check all your items are properly secure. Ensure all of the straps are pulled tight also it is vital to double-check your load to make certain your vehicle isn’t overloaded. If in the worst-case scenario your goods fall or move around in the back of your vehicle, it will be you that is held responsible. If you think your vehicle is overweight, phone up the nearest weigh bridge and get it checked!
5.) Be Prepared
As the winter season is approaching be prepared for the icy weather. It is key to have a de-icer and scraper to make sure your front and rear window screens are clear before you set off on any journey. Also it is always good to carry a shovel and a bag of salt, sometimes minor roads aren’t gritted enough or at all which can make it quite easy to get stuck.
As it’s the winter season it is becoming dark much earlier so it is handy to carry a torch and a high visibility jacket just in case you need to get out of your vehicle, it is vital for your safety and the safety of other road users that you are seen. It would also be handy to have an over night kit in case you get stuck somewhere and have to stay out for the night.
6.) Watch your speed
Due to the weight of a HGV vehicle it takes longer and more consistently to brake and slow the vehicle because more weight loaded on the vehicle. It is important that you make sure you slow down in plenty of time particularly when going round bends, turning corners or in busy traffic. Also taking extra care when there is a dramatic change in speed for example going from a 60 MPH zone to a 30 MPH zone.
7.) Stay Alert
When travelling on a motorway you will most likely see a sign telling you about ‘tiredness kills’ and it’s not wrong, getting drowsy and falling asleep at the wheel is one of the biggest killers for drivers, so make sure you get plenty of rest before setting off on your journey. Healthy adults will need around 7-9 hours sleep each night to function at their best. Always be aware of other road users too, even though you feel alert and awake, others may not be, so always look ahead for potential hazards and they wont catch you by surprise.
8.) Eat healthy on the go
When you are driving for a lengthy amount of time it is vital that you don’t drive on an empty stomach so before setting off it is advisable to have a big breakfast to help you get ready for the day.
Once on the road ensure you have energising snacks that are full of vitamins and minerals that will keep you going until you are safe to pull over or into a service station to eat properly.
Having a snack with you can save you from getting unwell whilst on the road. Not eating for a while can cause nausea, bloating and exhaustion, this can become uncomfortable and may distract you from driving.
9.) DON’T use your mobile phone while driving!
Being in control of a large vehicle means you have to be alert and can’t have any distractions, for your safety and the safety of others.
To be sure that you will stay alert and not distracted keep your mobile phone away from you so you are not tempted to pick it up. Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is illegal.
You can purchase a phone mount for your vehicle so you can see the device for the use of maps or traffic updates e.c.t. However to ensure your trip is carried out safely and you are not going to break any laws wait until you find a safe place to plot up to answer phone calls and text messages.
10.) Steer clear of drink & drugs
Recently there’s been a lot of talk about a zero tolerance approach to drink driving, while many people think they know their limits, the truth is you are most safe being behind the wheel with absolutely no alcohol in your system at all or under the influence of any drugs. You will also be abiding by the law if you have no drink or drugs in your system at all. Drinking whilst driving can affect you a lot, if you are driving whilst intoxicated you brain takes longer to receive messages from the eyes and instructions to the body’s muscles are delayed resulting in slower reaction times.
If you need to take any prescribed medication be sure to look at the side effects and check with your doctor that these are safe to take whilst driving.
RSM will teach you how to complete your daily vehicle checks, as well as teaching you safe driving practices when you train with us!
Alternatively, please use the Contact Us page to submit your details and we will contact you.