We talk a lot about learning to become a HGV driver. But while a lot of our blogs talk about what’s on the tests, what you need to know and how to find work as a driver once you are qualified, we don’t talk a lot about safety. And not road safety either – this is all about personal safety. Because while being out on the road by yourself is one of the big draws of being a HGV driver, it’s also one of the bigger safety issues. So today, we wanted to give you some tips for keeping yourself safe out on the road, especially at night.
Safety Checks Are Essential
Yes, we know you know that you’re doing your safety checks. As a HGV driver you should know that doing your safety checks every day is essential for both the safety of you and other road users. But if you’ve spent the night in a service station, you might think you don’t need to do those checks, since it’s the same journey. And that’s where you’re wrong. Because while you slept, or visited the service station, there is a chance that thieves or vandals could have tampered with your vehicle. The most common tactic is for them to pull your fifth wheel lock, which can cause all sorts of problems if you then just try to drive off with it locked. You can mitigate this by pulling your cab forward with the trailer brakes on, creating pressure on the king pin that stops them being able to pull your lock. But even so, it’s important for you to do your visual safety checks before you start driving on every journey, especially if you’ve been away from the HGV or unconscious for a while.
The Seatbelt Trick
Depending on your route and the type of drive you’re doing, you might have to stop for the night in some less than ideal areas. But you need the rest, and you can’t drive for any longer without a break, so stop you must. Now, it’s all about making sure your cab is secure before you bed down. Obviously, you should ensure all of your doors are locked properly before you turn in for the night, but there is one more trick you can employ to make sure your door can’t be opened from the outside during the night. Take your seatbelt, and wrap it around your door handle. Finish the wrap with the buckle facing towards you, pull it tight and plug it into the seatbelt clip. This keeps your door shut tight, so even if your locks fail or someone gets past them, they still won’t be able to open your door.
Be Aware, Always
Situational awareness is key to keeping yourself safe in any environment – especially as a HGV driver. So whenever you’re not driving, you should be paying attention to the area around you, and making sure you’re being as safe as possible. That means things like keeping your eyes off your phone, walking around the ends of parking spaces instead of in-between vehicles, and not winding down your window or getting out of your cab for anyone.
You should also make yourself aware of common tricks thieves and thugs will use to get you out of your cab. The main one is the coin trick – where they will sip a coin between the glad hand and the receiver, and this will stop your brakes from releasing. If you feel this when you’re starting to pull away, your first instinct will be to jump out and have a look at what’s going on. But this is exactly what they want you to do. Now you’re out of the safety of your cab, and both you and your HGV are vulnerable. So if this happens, take a minute to really look carefully around you. Take in everything about the area, and make sure there is no one lurking around. If you don’t feel safe, call the service station and ask someone to come out to you – this usually does the trick and makes the thieves scarper. Sadly, while these tips are important for everyone, it’s women HGV drivers who need to pay special attention to their personal safety at truck stops, especially at night.
Of course, we would like to believe that this kind of thing doesn’t really happen – but sadly, it does, and more often than you might think. HGVs are known for the fact that they carry goods, and sometimes very valuable ones, which means they are a prime target for thieves and gangs. Keeping yourself safe on the road is a fundamental skill for any HGV driver, which is why we cover it so thoroughly in our HGV driver training. If you would like to know more, please get in touch with us today.
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