Driving an HGV is more challenging than operating a simple car at the best of times. You’re dealing
with a huge piece of machinery, which is why it’s so important to have the right training. While the
correct education should keep you safe most of the time, there are certain times of the year when
things can get a little tougher for HGV drivers.
The winter months can be extremely unpredictable in the UK, with everything from high winds, to
storms and snow to worry about. Whether you’re starting your new HGV career for the first time, or
you’ve been driving for years, it’s worth taking some extra precautions during the winter.
Here are some top tips to keep you safe all-year round.
1. Watch The Weather
Start making a habit of checking the weather channel, or download an app on your phone so you can
give yourself an insight on what you might need to deal with each day. Remember, the winter isn’t
just problematic for HGV drivers because of snow and ice. Frosty roads can be a severe issue when
you’re navigating tight corners and difficult roads. However, you should also be aware of other
common weather issues in the winter, such as:
- Impending storms: Serious storms might make it dangerous to be on the road in a large
HGV. Consider checking in with your boss about whether you should postpone part of your
journey when lightning or major downpours start.
- Heavy rain: While rain is a pretty commonplace occurrence in the UK, extremely heavy rain
can impair your sight on the road. You’ll need to make sure you have some heavy duty wipers
in place, and a good set of tires with enough grip to keep you fastened to the asphalt.
- Fog: Fog is another major issue during the winter months, as it can make it much harder to be
aware of the potential dangerous around you. It’s important to slow down if your vision is
impaired, and use your fog lights when you need to.
2. Create your Winter Kit
Depending on the kind of company you’re working for, you may be given a winter driving kit from
your employer when the weather starts to turn. If you don’t have one of these kits handy, you’ll need
to make one yourself. It’s up to you to decide what this kit should entail, based on the kind of work
you do, and the roads you’re likely to encounter.
Start with the basics, like a scraper and some de-icer for your vehicle, as well as a few extra layers of
clothing in case you get stuck without any heat. You could also consider investing in a shovel and a
bag of salt or sand to get you out of a difficult position. Your kit can also include:
- Extra windshield fluid
- Tire chains
- A first-aid kit (just in case)
- High visibility clothing and hazard triangles
- Water and extra food
- Jumper cables
- A flash light
If you know you’re likely to encounter a lot of glare as a result of winter sun, you can also include a
pair of sunglasses in your kit.
3. Design a Winter Checklist
In general, most HGV drivers and their teams will perform regular checks on their truck to ensure
everything is working as it should be. Your vehicle can break down just as easily in the summer as it
does in the winter months, so it’s important to be prepared at all times.
However, the last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere on your route when the
weather is freezing. With this in mind, create a checklist for the things you absolutely need to look
into before you get on the road. You can start by checking your heater and battery, to make sure
they’re both in good condition. You’ll also want to ensure your lights are working properly so you can
see through fog and heavy rain.
Check your tires for pressure, balance, and wear, and make sure you have all of your fluid levels
topped up. It’s a good idea to keep on top of fuel too, as dangerous weather can sometimes mean you
take alternative routes, which may mean more petrol or diesel.
4. Prioritise Safe Driving
Safe driving has always been essential for any HGV driver – not just during the winter months.
However, you may need to practice being extra cautious when the weather starts to change. Start
prepping yourself for more careful driving the moment the temperature begins to drop.
This means slowing down on the roads, even if you’ll end up taking longer to arrive in your
destination. A slow and steady pace will ensure you don’t have to hit the brakes too quickly, causing
skidding and other issues. You’ll also be more equipped to leave plenty of space between you and
other drivers on the road – who may not be as cautious as you.
As you’re driving, keep an eye out for various hazardous on the road. For instance, a swerving driver
in front of you might be having more issue with the ice than you, so it’s best to keep your distance.
Black ice is also a common problem for HGV drivers, as well as bridges, which aren’t always treated
by gritters – so you’ll need to be extra careful.
5. Take Regular Breaks
Breaks are an important part of your routine as an HGV driver for a good reason. It’s hard to stay
focused on the road for long periods of time without giving your brain some time to refresh. When
you’re struggling to see through sheets of rain, giving yourself a headache with fog, and working hard
to keep warm, it’s even more important to take some time out.
Give yourself regular breaks to ensure you’re ready to keep driving as safely as possible. At the same
time, make sure you know when to call it a day and let your boss know you can’t continue driving. If
the weather gets too bad at any point, and you simply can’t see enough to drive, it’s better to pull over
and take a break until things ease off.
You should never put your safety at risk just to get somewhere on time.
Master HGV Driving in Any Weather
Although HGV driving can have its challenges during the winter months, it’s still an exciting and
fantastic career for the right people. Once you’ve learned how to master the challenges of the winter
weather, you should have no problem making the most of your new job.
If you want to start your new path into HGV driving – don’t wait until the weather improves. Contact Surrey & Hampshire HGV training today!
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