If you’ve recently qualified as an HGV driver, the prospect of starting your first job is probably both daunting and exciting. Let’s face it, manoeuvring 10 tonnes of metal with all manner of dangerous cargo requires more skill and increased responsibility than any of your previous driving experience. When you’re an HGV driver on the road, whether it’s your first or 91st time, your actions directly affect other people’s lives.
So, safety always comes first on the roads. To help you to feel more confident and safer when you take to the roads, here are our top five tips for new HGV drivers.
- Always drive defensively
Being aware when driving is essential. It is important to react quickly and appropriately if any potentially dangerous situations arise. Defensive driving involves driving in a way which avoids dangerous situations occurring in the first place. Rather than driving in a reactionary way (waiting for an incident to occur before reacting), defensive driving is more proactive in its approach to the potential dangers of the road. If you can predict what other road users are going to do and spot any potential hazards early, you will be able to take the appropriate measures to avoid them.
- Carefully plan your journey
Forward planning your journey is another essential part of long distance HGV driving. Finding a balance between making all pick-ups and deliveries on time and driving in a safe manner is a considerable task which takes a lot of preparation. Sometimes road traffic is inevitable and often unpredictable. Unforeseen incidents on the road can delay your journey and impact your plans. Having alternative routes in place is always a good idea as is a good knowledge of the UK’s motorway network. Timing is also essential. When using the UK road network on a daily basis, you’ll soon learn which areas are traffic hotspots at certain times of the day. You’ll also need to factor in any speed restrictions which are in place to safely complete your journey.
- Know your vehicle (height, length, restrictions)
Before embarking on any journey, it’s imperative that you are aware of your vehicle’s dimensions. There are many roads across the UK with a variety of restrictions. These can vary from low bridges and narrow lanes to sections of road with weight limits and constraints on commercial vehicle usage. It’s particularly important to be aware of any city centre road systems. Being caught unaware can be both stressful and dangerous. Having a knowledge of the mechanical side of your vehicle is also helpful; at the very least you should know how to perform the basic vehicle checks (oil levels, tyre condition, water levels etc.) before you begin any journey.
- Stay calm and alert
Staying alert and calm on the roads will help you to respond appropriately to any hazards and difficult driving conditions you may encounter. Getting enough sleep is essential before beginning a long journey. Statistics show that around 20% of road accidents in the UK are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Taking regular breaks is also essential. Plans your breaks throughout your journey and always stick to them whenever possible. During your breaks try to get some exercise, have a walk around the motorway services, speak to any other HGV drivers and perhaps have some refreshments.
- Understand your surroundings (spatial awareness)
Understanding the environment around your vehicle will enable you to safely manoeuvre around any obstacles. Navigating down narrow streets and turning into tight spaces require excellent spatial awareness. Improving your spatial awareness will come with practise. As a new HGV driver, take your time to learn your vehicle's limits and capacity and be patient and always aware of what’s going on around you.
Being an HGV driver can be a rewarding and challenging career. If you value your independence and the freedom of being in control of your own vehicle and driving experience, becoming an HGV driver is an excellent career choice for you. If you thrive on human interaction, however, you may find it difficult to adjust to a life on the road.
HGV drivers transport all manner of goods in their vehicles. Certain cargoes will require the driver to undergo specific training while others will be less regulated. If you’ve recently qualified as an HGV driver and you’re looking for your first opportunity, check out the current vacancies on the PPR website. Alternatively, if you’re an experienced HGV driver looking for your next role or you’re part of a haulage company looking for new drivers, contact PPR today.
To find out more about working with PPR call 01895 80 81 88 or send us a message online.