A professional truck driver is likely to encounter a whole range of different – often challenging – road conditions. Staying safe whatever the weather is something that not only protects other road users and helps to make sure that your load is delivered on time, but it is also one of the most effective ways of keeping your lorry haulage insurance within reasonable bounds.
Given the importance of safe trucking to you, your business and other road users, therefore, here are a few top tips:
- checking your vehicle before each run is something likely to be ingrained in the mind of any professional driver. The driver is legally responsible for having done so and cannot later blame the operator or owner;
- the driver is also legally required to wear a seatbelt – it might actually save your life;
- as the driver of the HGV you are also legally responsible for ensuring that your load is secure;
- your in-cab tachograph may be telling you one thing but it is how you actually feel and whether you are sufficiently alert to be driving at full capacity – the Highway Code, for example, advises a break at least every two hours;
- with respect to maintaining a sensible and legally permissible state of alert it is clearly essential to stay clear of alcohol or drugs – whatever your own assessment of your ability, the impairment is likely to tip you over any safe or legally prescribed limit as well as potentially invalidate your HGV insurance;
Driving in adverse conditions
- strong winds are fairly common throughout the UK and pose particular problems for HGV drivers, especially those of high-sided vehicles;
- if you have the chance, of course, it is better to avoid the danger altogether by planning ahead and avoiding areas where high winds might affect your driving;
- if you are driving an empty lorry with side curtains, roll them up out of the way in order to reduce wind resistance;
- remember that sudden gusts of wind might not only affect the way your own vehicle handles but is likely to present problems for other road users too;
- in its own compilation of driving safety tips, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) warns about the dangers of losing track of your speed when driving in fog – potentially going faster than the prevailing conditions call for;
- slowing down and keeping within a safe distance of any vehicles in front of you are important when driving in fog;
- fog has a way not only of falling in lower-lying areas, but then also drifting about, catching out the unwary – whether yourself or other drivers;
- it is important, therefore, to switch on dipped headlights to increase your ability both to see and be seen;
- either at dusk or during the night time, fog is likely to be even more dangerous;
- as with any of these adverse weather conditions, flooding is obviously best avoided altogether – so forward planning and adjustment of your route may prove the best line of defence;
- flood water is likely to seriously affect your stopping distance and you might need to allow twice the distance normally required on a dry road;
- spray from your own and other vehicles is likely to make visibility a problem for all drivers, so take this into account and ensure that your own windscreen wipers are working effectively;
- avoid sudden braking and acceleration or erratic steering;
- only attempt to drive through standing water if you are certain of its depth, proceeding cautiously and testing your brakes once you have crossed the affected stretch of road.
Driving a truck or lorry is clearly a major responsibility and one that the professional driver is expected to take seriously. Some of these tips on safer driving might help you to maintain those standards.