Being a good HGV driver is about more than just getting from point A to point B. It’s about making sure you and everyone around you are safe, which means staying out of accidents. No one likes to think about accidents on the roads, but they do happen, and since high percentages of accidents involving lorries are fatal, drivers should be proactive in avoiding them. So in this blog, we wanted to talk about the main causes of HGV accidents in this country, and give you some tips on how to avoid being involved in one.
Speeding is bad no matter what the vehicle you drive, but in an HGV it’s one of the worst things you could do. You’re driving a multi-tonne vehicle that takes a lot of time to slow down, or even respond to your commands, This means you need as much time as possible to respond in case of an emergency – and you don’t get that if you’re speeding. And when an HGV driving at 50mph is capable of tearing through a house ((which happened in Barnsley in 2018, when a woman was killed after a stolen lorry crashed and took out a sizeable portion of her home), you need every advantage you can get. So keeping yourself within the speed limits is a great way to stay safe on the road.
Tips to avoid speeding accidents:
- Never go over the speed limit for large goods vehicles
- Always check the weather forecast before a journey, and leave enough time to ensure you’re not under any time pressure for your deliveries
- Check the condition of your tires before setting out. If they don’t have a good amount of treat, they won’t be able to dissipate water as well in heavy rain, which will impact your stopping times and control.
As part of their qualification, HGV drivers go through rigorous health testing to make sure they are fit and healthy enough to drive an HGV. They also have to repeat those exams every 5 years, to make sure they are still healthy. This is because while a driver who has a health incident behind the wheel of an ordinary car could be bad, one who is behind the wheel of an HGV could be devastating. This was sadly the case in 2013 when a major accident in Scotland cost Catherine Bonner her life and severely injured her husband Jim McColl, because the driver of an HGV had a seizure, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into their house. We all know that health can deteriorate over time, so taking care of yourself should be a priority.
Tips to avoid medical accidents:
- Have regular check-ups with your GP to ensure you are healthy and to catch any underlying problems early.
- Assess your overall health every week, and keep a note of any changes.
- Make sure you exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and keep mentally active to keep your mind and body in peak health.
Everyone gets a little angry behind the wheel now and then. But while swearing at the guy who cut you up on the motorway won’t cause you any harm, real road rage can cause serious problems. We know how frustrating it can be to drive a speed limited vehicle that is bigger and bulkier than everything else on the road and dealing with the way other motorists can sometimes treat HGV drivers. But letting road rage get the better of you means you’re likely to make stupid mistakes and take unnecessary risks, all of which could lead to you losing control of the vehicle and causing an accident. So making sure your anger is under control is an essential part of being an HGV driver.
Tips for avoiding road rage accidents:
- Make sure you’re sleeping properly. Chronic lack of sleep has been proven to impair your ability to think and make decisions.
- Plan your routes to make sure you’re not under any pressure to make your deliveries on time.
- This has been proven to lower stress levels and help keep a clear mind and a healthy mental state.
HGVs being stuck under bridges is thankfully becoming a less and less common sight across the country, but unfortunately, it does happen. Just as lorries going over bridges that can’t support their weight and causing damage happens too. HGVs are very large, heavy vehicles (hence their name), and if a driver isn’t aware of their height and weight, they can end up in a lot of trouble. It’s sadly one of the most common incidents in the logistic industry, with over 2000 incidents reported by the rail industry alone, and repairs costing over £23 million. Plus, since the top of a lorry isn’t as structurally supported as the base, it can cause irreparable damage to the vehicle itself.
Tips to avoid bridge accidents:
- Use a sat nav that has been specifically made for HGVs, as these are programmed to avoid low bridges.
- Know the height and width of the vehicle you’re driving. If you regularly change vehicles, make sure it is written down before you begin your journey.
- If you’re not sure your HGV will fit, don’t even attempt to cross or go under a bridge.
At The Surrey & Hampshire Training Centre, we take driver safety very seriously. That’s why it’s such a key focus in everything we teach. We regularly cover the common causes of accidents in our training courses and make sure all new drivers know not only what causes accidents on the road, but what they can do to avoid them. We see it as our duty to reduce road accident wherever we can, through effective training.
If you would like to find out more about our training, get in touch with the team today.
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