HGV safety has always been a touchy subject, and it’s once again come into the spotlight after 2 lorries and a minibus collided on the M1, killing 8 people. But HGV safety is something that the government, and the drivers, take very seriously, which is why a lot of thought and work has gone into creating the rules around HGV driving. So this week, we wanted to go into detail on some of the rules around HGV driving and keeping HGV’s, and the roads, safe.
UK Road Laws
First things first – HGV drivers are bound by all of the same road rules that normal vehicles are. This means no driving drunk, tired or on the phone, no exceeding the speed limit and no illegal manoeuvres. It also means their vehicle must be taxed, insured and have a valid MOT, and they must have the correct qualifications to drive it. Now that doesn’t mean that accidents won’t happen – but the proportion is similar to the number of accidents involving normal cars.
Many HGV’s will come equipped with a little box, which limits the speed the vehicle can travel at. For most, the limit is 70 mph, allowing for safe motorway driving speeds without excess speed. By limiting the speed of the vehicles, regulators are ensuring that the drivers can always break and stop safely, protecting the driver, the cargo and the other road users.
Because HGV’s are such big, heavy object to manoeuvre with, it can sometimes be difficult for the driver to see everything that’s going on – behind and in front of them. That’s why most HGV’s come equipped with specialist safety equipment, including:
- Rear view cameras
- Reversing cameras
- Vehicle radars
- GPS tracking
- Digital video recorders (DVR)
- RFID technology
- Auto breaking systems
- Mirror monitors
Comprehensive Safety Checks
Before they start their first journey of the day, every HGV driver is required to perform a series of checks on their vehicle. These checks help ensure the vehicle is safe to drive, that it is fully operational and the load is secured inside. The list of checks is pretty comprehensive and includes:
- Checking the condition of the brake lines
- Ensuring the security of the load
- Verifying that number plate is still in place and secure
- Testing all electrical connections
- Cleaning markers
- Ensuring reflectors are clean and functional
- Checking tyres for tread depth and punctures, and checking wheel fixings
- Examining spray suppression
- Inspection the security of the body and wings around wheels
- Verifying the condition and security of the battery
- Checking the coupling security
- Inspecting lights and indicators to ensure bulbs are all working
- Viewing the warning lamp
- Manually check windscreen wipers and washers for functionality
- Watching for excessive engine exhaust smoke on startup
- Testing the functionality of the horn
- Verifying the steering controls
- Testing the brakes
- Clearing the front view from the drivers’ seat
Training And Qualifications
And of course, you can’t even become an HGV driver without the right qualifications. All HGV drivers have to pass a rigorous training, testing and qualification regimen in order to drive an HGV professionally. This starts with having passed their standard car driving test (to prove they know the rules of the road and the basics of driving safely. After that, every driver is required to undertake safety training, learn how to operate such a large vehicle, how to do safety checks and extensive manoeuvres training. If they don’t meet the high standards set by the HGV licensing tests, then they will fail, and be denied their license.
At Surrey & Hampshire HGV Training, we specialise in providing aspiring HGV drivers with the tools and knowledge they need to pass their test and become high-quality HGV drivers. This includes covering the basics of handling such a big vehicle, all the way to understanding safety checks and manoeuvring. For more information, or to book onto your training course, just get in touch with us today.
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