We’d never want to teach you how to suck eggs. But every now and again, we’re all in need of a little reminder to prioritise our safety. We all live busy lives, after all, and health and safety can sometimes be overlooked as we rush to get from A to B.
As an HGV driver, you often have to get to C, D, E and F as well! Time is always of the essence when you’re traversing the roads. But that’s no excuse to cut corners when it comes to matters of safety.
Truck driver deaths have been on the rise in recent years, with Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, warning that HGV drivers are “being forced to the point of exhaustion and beyond, due to a combination of long hours and ever-changing shift patterns”.
While it’s clear this might be an industry-wide problem, all HGV drivers have a personal responsibility to not put themselves – or other road users – at risk.
Here are some trucking safety tips to minimise your chances of having an accident while behind the wheel:
1 Check your load
While it might not be your job to pack your trailer, if the transportation goods are not fully secured and move or fall from the back of your vehicle in transit, you, as the driver, will be held accountable.
So, before you set off, spend 10 minutes ensuring all items are completely secure. If you have any reservations about any of the goods, make them known to the warehouse team.
2 Take regular breaks
Let’s make this clear: all HGV drivers want to find the time in their day to take a break. But, sometimes the pressures of meeting deadlines and finishing work in time can make taking a break tricky.
The maximum number of hours HGV drivers can drive in one day is nine hours; you must legally take a 45-minute break every 4.5 hours. When estimating arrival times, don’t forget to factor in your legally-required break.
3 Keep your distance
Again, this comes down to the pressures of getting a load dropped-off in time or wanting to get home to see your family, but that’s not an excuse for tailgating another road user.
When you’re in an HGV vehicle, tailgating can be particularly intimidating for the driver on the receiving end of it. It also increases the risk of a collision.
The easiest way to judge a safe gap is to use the two-second rule.
4 Keep distractions to a minimum
When driving an HGV, it can sometimes feel like you’re cruising and driving without really having to think – especially as an experienced driver. But, at no point should your concentration falter.
So, eliminate anything that might cause you to be distracted behind the wheel: your mobile phone, sat nav, paperwork etc.
5 Take ownership of your truck
If you work for a transportation company, you might have got into the habit of letting them assume responsibility for vehicle checks. However, even if you might be within your rights to make such an assumption, if you are caught by the police driving a vehicle in an unsafe state, you may be faced with a hefty fine.
So, at least once a week, double check things such tyre pressure, tyre tread, engine oil levels, brakes and lights.
Remember: safety first, always.