10 tips for new HGV drivers
KevTee runs a fantastic channel on YouTube and has put together a great guide for new HGV drivers to help you avoid making frustrating and sometimes dangerous mistakes when you first start driving an HGV Lorry commercially.
1) Planning your HGV journey:
- Plan your fuel stops – in an HGV you can’t always fill up at any garage, and your company may have a contract with a particular garage.
- Plan your rest stops – consider any facilities you may need when you take your breaks and plan ahead.
- Plan your route in advance – There are literally dozens of apps available today to help you do this with an app.
- Plan for the entrance at your destination – familiarise yourself by talking to other HGV drivers who have been there, and have a look on Google Street View if possible.
- Plan ahead if you are going to a big city – you can’t take breaks in a city so plan a break in advance if you think you need one before.
2) Know your heights
- Always familiarise yourself with the height of your HGV lorry, including:
- The height of your trailer
- The height of any load your might be carrying such as plant.
- If you are using a flatbed, know the heights of any loads you are carrying.Do not rely on the height indicator inside your cab, another HGV driver may have adjusted it. There could be a new load, or it may have been set for a different trailer.
- If you are driving a tipper, always ensure your body is as far down as it can go.
- If you are a plant driver, make sure that the arms on any diggers or excavators are stretched out as far as they can go so they are a low height wise as they can be.
- Do not rely entirely on your satnav – they are not perfect, and published bridge heights can be wrong, especially if your clearance is tight.
- Be wary of bridge markings, again especially if your clearance is tight. Know where your low bridges are en-route, and proceed with extreme caution when you approach these bridges, it is not unheard of that a road going under a bridge has been resurfaced recently, but the bridge marking has not been changed to reflect this.
Transport Scotland have really useful guide for preventing bridge strikes here.
3) Always expect the unexpected in an HGV !
As an HGV driver, you will see far more of the roads and bad driving than most other motorists. People will often drive erratically to try and get past an HGV lorry.
You will learn to sense these things with exprience, and realise that these occurences are common.
4) Fatigue and driving tired.
- If you feel tired when driving, turn the heating off in your HGV and wind the window down.
- It may be advisable to stop your HGV, have a walk, perhaps a cup of coffee, and if you are really tired, there is no substitute for stopping your truck, and having a 10 or 15 minute power nap.
- Never carry on driving your lorry if you are really tired, even if you are concerend about keeping to your schedule.
- Staying hydrated in very important – you will be surprised how having enough water will help you feel more alert.
5) Load security
- ALWAYS check your load before departure, especially if it wasn’t you who loaded the vehicle.
- Check that all your straps are tight, that curtains are intact, and that none of your load is loose, and nothing is protruding.
- Remember the load is ALWAYS the drivers responsibility once you have left the yard.
- If anything falls off your HGV once you are on the road, it is YOUR responsibility.
- A good tip is to recheck your load once you have travelled 5 or 10 miles, to make sure everything is still secure, that nothing has moved or become loose. Recheck all of your straps or chains.
- Recheck your load security again every time you take a break.
6) Watch your HGV tail swing!
- An HGV lorrys tail can swing out considerably when you make a turn, particularly into another road.
- Be mindful that many other motorists are not aware of this, and if they are in an adjacent lane when your are turning away, they may find themselves in a collision with your tail as it swings out.
- Always try and leave a few feet spare on the opposite side that you are making a turn to. This can be very difficult in multiple lanes with moving vehicles, but is easier in a situation with parked vehicles or staionary objects.
7) Be thorough with you HGV vehicle checks !
- The most important tip for HGV vehicle checks, is not to get complacent!
- On a cold dark or rainy morning, it can be very tempting to take shortcuts with your HGV vehicle checks and make assumptionsthatthings are OK.
- Always walk around your HGV and check everything thoroughly, with a torch if necessary.
- Any defect on your vehicle that causes an incident and damage to a person or property is YOUR responsibility. Remember ultimately, if the worst happens, it could be YOU going to prison.
- This great guide from VANHEE Training, is a good concise guide to your vehicle checks:
- As an HGV driver, there is frequently going to be ALOT of waiting around.
- You will often have to wait, sometimes for hours, to tip your load or pickup a load.
- You will often find yourself waiting in traffic jams for long periods of time.
- Always make sure that you have some form of entertainment with you.
- In traffic you can listen to the radio, but when you are waiting to tip your load on site somewhere, somsthing like a tablet, or a book is important, or you are going to get BORED.
- Many drivers buy a cheap TV and aerial for these times.
- If you are tramping, this is especially important, and you will definitely want something to keep you entertained in the evening before yougo to bed.
- Remember that data costs for your phone or tablet can mount up, and many drivers opt for an unlimited data plan, or one with as high data allowance as possible.
- If you are european tramping there are many data plans available that cover many countries.
9) Health and excercise as an HGV driver
- Never loose sight of the fact that your job as an HGV driver, involves LOTS of sitting down!
- Don’t forget that every time you take a break or finish your shift, although you may be tired, you should always take a walk, stretch your legs for a minimum of 20 minutes, preferably half an hour, just to get you muscles working again, and get the blood flowing.
- There is substantial evidence today to show that a sedentary lifestyle is just as bad for your health as something like smoking or a bad diet!
- You WILL feel better for doing this, even though you may want to get straight into your bed!
- When you stop your HGV at services, a good tip is to park as far away as possible, and that way you will have a nice little walk to get your coffee or something to eat.
10) If unsure, ASK!
- Never be afraid to ask other HGV drivers any questions you may have, no question is too silly!
- Other lorry driver will always be happy to share their knowledge of their job or the roads with you.
- Always remember that when you take that truck out on the road, everything is your responsibility, and if you could have avoided a situation by asking a question before you go out, surely that is the sensible thing to do.
- NEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK !