HGV safety concerns have once again been making headlines after a collision between 2 lorries and a mini-bus resulted in 8 casualties. But the regulations around HGV driving have always been strict – more so than most people realise. So we thought we out to go over what regulations are in place to keep both HGV’s and other motorists safe while on the roads.
UK Road Rules
Just like every other road user, HGV drivers are bound by the UK road laws. By that logic, HGV’s are as safe as every other road user. That’s not to say accidents won’t happen, just like with everyone else. But HGV drivers are expected to abide by the speed limits, not drink and drive, not use a phone while driving, make sure their vehicle is taxed and insured, and that they have the relevant qualifications to drive their vehicle.
Because they are so large and cumbersome, it can be difficult for HGV drivers to gain full clarity when driving. That’s why most HGV’s come equipped with comprehensive safety equipment – allowing drivers to see their environment clearly. These technologies include:
- Rear view cameras
- Reversing cameras
- Vehicle radars
- GPS tracking
- Digital video recorders (DVR)
- RFID technology
- Auto breaking systems
- Mirror monitors
If you’ve ever driven behind an HGV, you may have noticed that they tend to go much slower than other vehicles (especially on motorways) – usually sticking to the slow lane at 70 mph. This is because most vehicles come equipped with a speed limiter, which won’t allow them to drive over a certain speed. This ensures the safety of the load and other road users. By limiting the speed, HGV drivers know that they can always break and come to a quick stop if needed.
Mandatory Rest And Drive Time Limits
Driving still remains the single biggest cause of road traffic accidents in the UK. It’s more deadly than drink driving and driving distracted combined, and yet thousands of drivers get onto the road tired every day. However, since professional drivers need to be alert and safe to work, rest breaks are critical – and mandatory. HGV drivers are required to take a 45-minute break for every 4.5 hours they are on the road, ensuring they are bright eyed and alert for the road. There are also strict rules about how long they can drive – only 36 hours in a given week, and a total of 90 hours in any 2-week rolling period.
Vehicle Safety Checks
All drivers in the UK are required, both by their employers and by law, to carry out a comprehensive vehicle safety check. This is designed to ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive, and will pose no risk to the public. During this process, the driver will check:
- Checking the condition of the brake lines
- Ensuring the security of the load
- Verifying that number plate is still in place and secure
- Testing all electrical connections
- Cleaning markers
- Ensuring reflectors are clean and functional
- Checking tyres for tread depth and punctures, and checking wheel fixings
- Examining spray suppression
- Inspection the security of the body and wings around wheels
- Verifying the condition and security of the battery
- Checking the coupling security
- Inspecting lights and indicators to ensure bulbs are all working
- Viewing the warning lamp
- Manually check windscreen wipers and washers for functionality
- Watching for excessive engine exhaust smoke on startup
- Testing the functionality of the horn
- Verifying the steering controls
- Testing the brakes
- Clearing the front view from the drivers’ seat
Of course, in order to be legally allowed to drive an HGV in the first place, you need to be qualified. All HGV drivers are required to go through a rigorous training programme, which covers everything from the basics of how to operate such a large vehicle through to manoeuvres and safety procedures.
At The LGV Training Centre, we pride ourselves on all the safety of all of our driving graduates. Our intensive training programme ensures that even the least experienced new drivers will be seasoned and experienced HGV drivers by the time they leave us. For more information, or to book onto your training course, just get In touch with us today.