Christmas might be over, but for the UK the cold weather has only just begun. With the freezing winds and temperatures that rarely shift above 1 degree, January is one of the most perilous times for drivers on the road – especially if you’re driving a HGV. This year England has seen a snap freeze, accompanied in some places with snow, but everywhere with the HGV driver’s worst enemy – ice. In order to survive these perilous road conditions and continue to make deliveries, there are some preparations you need to make to your HGV, and for yourself.
Prepare Your HGV
While a lot of dedicated haulage companies will provide winter service check to their fleets, not all of them will, so it’s always important to know what to look out for in your vehicle while you’re on the road. For example, if you’re driving a diesel engine you should make sure you plug in the engine block heater each night, even if the temperature feels warm, to prevent overnight freezing. Similarly, you will need to monitor your vehicles engine temperature closely in colder months, as the extra exertion can cause them to over or under heat. Do your best to avoid cold soaks (where the engine fluids and engine block drop to ambient temperatures after sitting for a while) as this will affect the starting and charging systems and may leave you with a lorry that won’t start. Make sure you’re using winter weight fuel and stocked up on de-icer, winter screen fluid and other basic engine maintenance materials. Check your tyres frequently, as ice on the tyres or deflation can make even a gritted road slippery.
While your vehicle might be the more temperamental thing in wintery conditions, the weather can also have a bit effect on you. Drivers need to make sure they adjust the way they drive during cold spells so that they don’t fall foul of icy patches. Extra checks need to be carried out before you start every journey, which means you might need to adjust your timings to fit them in. Drivers will need to mentally prepare to adjust the speeds and distances they are driving, as well as having back up routes planned in case of inaccessible roads due to floods, snows, ice or accidents. If you are genuinely uncomfortable with an area you are driving in, either find a way around it or stop the vehicle. You might not want to let your boss down, but the safety of you and those on the road around you is paramount.
Prepare Your Survival Kit
On top of preparing yourself mentally and your vehicle physically, there are a few more things you need to do before you set out this winter. When the weather conditions get bad (which they can very quickly in areas of England and Scotland), you might find yourself stranded. In these situations, your cab is your survival capsule, so you need to make sure it is packed with provisions that can help you either get out or stay safe until you can. Your winter survival kit for each journey might include:
- Some strong sacking (to place under the wheels for extra traction of they get stuck)
- A shovel
- Warm clothes
- A thick blanket
- A flask of hot tea or coffee and some food
- A mobile phone and charger
- Sunglasses (to counteract the glare you can get when there’s a lot of snow on the ground. It might not be snowing where you are, but it could be where you’re going.)
- A first aid kit
- A hazard triangle
- A torch and batteries
For all motorists, driving in the wintery ice and snow can be a daunting experience. For a HGV driver, it is essential that they are confident and prepared for the worst the heavens can throw at them. If you feel like you need support, or would like some refresher training on winter driving and vehicle maintenance, get in touch with us today and we will help.