Summer as an HGV driver can be an amazing experience. It’s a chance to enjoy the fun of driving with the windows down and the wind in your hair. Plus, you can avoid the headaches of some of the rainier, or colder days of the year in the UK.
However, with 2022 set to continue the run for the world’s warmest years, there’s a good chance at least some of your days will be a little too hot to handle. As an HGV driver, it’s important to ensure you can beat the heat, particularly for those long-haul journeys behind the wheel.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to keep yourself cool when you’re travelling during the warmer months of the year. Here are our top tips.
Make Hydration a Priority
One of the biggest threats any HGV driver faces during the summer is dehydration. Long hours spent behind the wheel makes it easy to forget you need to top up your internal fluids every now and again. The more you sweat, and blast that skin-drying air con, the more dehydrated you get.
Dehydration doesn’t just make you feel terrible, it can also have an impact on your ability to drive safely too. With symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and nausea getting the best of you, your chances of low concentration and potential accidents increase.
While it might mean more trips to the bathroom during your journeys, staying hydrated is key to staying healthy. Make sure you have plenty of water bottles at the ready, and re-fill them every time you stop for a bathroom break. You can even freeze some bottles of water and use them as ice packs to keep your other drinks and food cool.
Be Prepared for Glare
Glare can really turn the heat up when you’re sitting in your HGV, by making it harder to focus on the road ahead. Fortunately, you can keep yourself cool, and protect yourself from a range of summer incidents, by being properly prepared. Wear a hat to keep the sun off your eyes and regulate the temperature at the top of your head.
It’s also worth having a set of sunglasses available, so you’re less likely to end up with migraines as a result of squinting out at the road. If you have shade solutions in your HGV, make sure you use them correctly, and take breaks when you need to, if you think the sun is getting the best of you.
Some companies will even support the installation of heat and glare-reducing window films for your HGV truck, if it means you’ll be a safer, more efficient driver.
Use Air Con or Open the Windows
Whether you should be using the air conditioning in your HGV or using the windows depends on a number of factors. If you’re in an open area where you’re not going to be exposed to a lot of pollution and noise, then you can roll the window down.
If you’re going to be driving at speed on a motorway, however, keep in mind the wind resistance created by opening the window can end up using more fuel than if you were to simply crank up the air conditioning. If you’re not sure which your boss would rather you do, consider asking for some advice. Either way, you’re going to need at least some kind of breeze.
Bonus tip – if you’re feeling extra hot, consider pouring a little cool water on your hair or around your neck when you’re on a break. The cool air against the water will help to cool you down a lot faster when you’re back behind the wheel.
Prepare your HGV
Making sure your HGV is properly prepared for all kinds of weather is crucial to ensuring a good driving experience. You can start by making sure your vehicle is protected from various issues caused by hot weather, like increased risk of tyre blowouts or brake fading. Next, make sure the cooling system is in top working order before you go out on any trip.
When you leave your HGV for a break, take steps to make sure it stays cool. Park in shady areas or consider investing in a sun shade to place on your dashboard. This will help to direct the heat away from the driver’s seat and the wheel, where you’re going to be doing most of your driving.
It’s definitely worth keeping extra resources in your HGV whenever you can. For instance, you might have a battery-powered fan handy, or a cooler, where you can store extra bottles of water.
While your HGV firm will usually have a dress code or uniform, you’re expected to wear, it’s worth asking whether there are alternative options if you’re struggling with your outfit in the heat. You might not need to wear your waterproof and high-vis jacket behind the wheel, for instance.
In extreme heat, management may allow you to wear short sleeved shorts, and shorts. Consider opting for looser fitting clothing, so the air can move around your body easily. It might also be a good idea to have an extra set of clothes handy on long-haul journeys, in case you get sweaty.
Think about your shoes too. You need a pair that makes it easy and comfortable for you to drive, without making your feet too warm.
Use Your Breaks Correctly
Finally, all HGV drivers have the right to look after themselves with regular breaks. You need to take rests every so often, so don’t push yourself to drive further or more than you can manage, as this could end up putting you in serious danger.
Learn how to recognise the signs the heat might be getting the best of you, like nausea, muscle cramps, and headaches, and take a break when you need to. If you think you might be suffering from excess dehydration or other problems, consider getting a sports drink with extra electrolytes.
Your breaks will help you to stay safer on the road, which is important to any employer.
Need extra help getting started with your HGV career in time for summer? Contact our team today to plan your next move.
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