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How To Avoid The 4 Most Common HGV Accidents

As a professional HGV driver, one of your main responsibilities is to ensure the safety of you, your cargo, and other road users and you move around the country. But unfortunately, accidents do happen, and for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s not the driver’s fault, whereas sometimes there was something that could be done to prevent it. Given that a HGV travelling at 50 mph is capable of tearing through a house (which happened in Barnsley in 2018, when a woman was killed after a stolen lorry crashed and took out a sizeable portion of her house), HGV drivers have a responsibility to understand the most common causes of HGV accidents, and what they can do to prevent them.

 

Speeding 

Pretty much everyone speeds, or has done at some point in their life. But when you’re behind the wheel of an HGV, speeding simply isn’t an option. You’re in control of a vehicle that takes much more time to respond due to how heavy it is, and you need as much time to manoeuvre as possible if you see a hazard coming. Not to mention things like rain or snow could have a massive impact on your ability to slow down or stop in an emergency. All in all, if you speed in an HGV, there is a real possibility that both you and other road users could get hurt if you lose control. An HGV driving at 50mph has enough weight to rip through a house, so this isn’t one to be taken lightly.

 

Tips to avoid speeding accidents:

  • Never go over the speed limit for large goods vehicles

 

  • Always check the weather forecast before a journey, and leave enough time to ensure you’re not under any time pressure for your deliveries

 

  • Check the condition of your tires before setting out. If they don’t have a good amount of treat, they won’t be able to dissipate water as well in heavy rain, which will impact your stopping times and control.

 

Bridges 

The sight of an HGV stuck under a bridge might seem funny, but in reality, it’s quite dangerous and expensive. But all too often HGV drivers think they can squeeze their vehicles through a low bridge, and find themselves stuck. Over 2000 incidents of HGVs damaging bridges this way are reported each year by the rail service alone, and it costs around £23 million per year to repair all the damage caused. Not to mention the fact that HGVs aren’t as strong structurally at the top as they are at the bottom, so they damage essentially writes the vehicle off right away. Needless to say, this is one accident we should be focussing on avoiding at all costs.

 

Tips to avoid bridge accidents:

  • Use a sat nav that has been specifically made for HGVs, as these are programmed to avoid low bridges.

 

  • Know the height and width of the vehicle you’re driving. If you regularly change vehicles, make sure it is written down before you begin your journey.

 

  • If you’re not sure your HGV will fit, don’t even attempt to cross or go under a bridge.

 

 

Health Problems

HGV drivers are constantly being examined to make sure they are fit and healthy – and for good reason. You’re in charge of a huge, heavy vehicle, and if you have a medical problem that could impact your ability to drive safely, you are more likely to cause an accident. And while a driver who has a health incident while driving a normal car is bad, one that is behind the wheel of an HGV could be devastating. This was the case in 2013 when Catherine Bonner and her husband Jim McColl were the victims of an accident caused by a lorry driver who had a seizure, and crashed into their house. Catherine was killed, and Jim was severely injured. So it’s not just other road users you are protecting by keeping your health checks up to date.

 

Tips to avoid medical accidents:

  • Have regular check-ups with your GP to ensure you are healthy and to catch any underlying problems early.

 

  • Assess your overall health on a weekly basis, and keep a note of any changes.

 

  • Make sure you exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and keep mentally active to keep your mind and body in peak health.

 

 

Anger

Everyone gets a little angry every now and then. And being behind the wheel, especially for long periods of time, can be incredibly frustrating. But as a professional HGV driver, it’s important to keep your anger under control. Road rage is a big contributor to HGV accidents every year because anger can cause you to make reckless decisions and stupid mistakes. It’s important to remember that you’re driving a vehicle with enough force to tear through buildings, and if you lose control of it in a moment of anger then you are putting your own life, and the lives of others, at risk.

 

Tips for avoiding road rage accidents:

  • Make sure you’re sleeping properly. Chronic lack of sleep has been proven to impair your ability to think and make decisions.

 

  • Plan your routes to make sure you’re not under any pressure to make your deliveries on time.

 

  • This has been proven to lower stress levels and help keep a clear mind and a healthy mental state.

 

 

At The LGV Training Centre, safety is at the core of what we do. It’s why we focus so much on not only loading and operating vehicles in a safe way, but highlighting what causes the accidents seen on our roads every year, and how new drivers can avoid repeating the same mistakes as those who came before them. If you would like to know more about our approach to HGV driver training, just get in touch with the team today.

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