When it comes to HGV driving, there’s a lot to take in. But in all of the training, one of the most critical things we teach you about is safety. What you might not know is that there are generally two parts to this. The first is your standard theory and road safety – no driving while on the phone, understanding braking distances etc. And then there’s personal safety – the things you can do to make sure you are safe during long journeys and overnight stops in strange places. Because sadly, HGVs are often the targets of thieves or gangs who want to steal the cargo, or just vandals who want to cause damage. And since HGV drivers sometimes have to drive through or stop overnight in some not-so-safe places, it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe. We have 3 top tips to start you off today.
Even when you’re not on the road, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all time. If you’re parked up in the evening or at night, this is even more important. When walking to and from your HGV, keep your head out of your phone, and walk around the end of parking spaces instead of in-between vehicles. If someone comes up to your window while you’re sitting in a car park, wave them on – there are a lot of gangs that will try to lure you out of the cab to steal anything from your keys to your anti-freeze. On top of that, try to familiarise yourself with the tricks thieves use to get you out of the cab so that they can steal. A very popular one is the penny trick. This is where they slip a coin between the glad and hand the receiver of your brakes, stopping them from releasing. The first you’ll know of it is when you try to pull away, and you feel your brakes not releasing. Your first instinct will be to hop out of the cab and take a look – which is exactly what they want you to do. So stop, take a look at around, and really pay attention to your surroundings before even considering leaving the vehicle. If you suspect something is amiss, call someone in the service station to come out to the HGV – this will usually out thieves off and allow you to fix the problem. Sadly, while these tips are important for everyone, it’s women HGV drivers who need to pay special attention to their personal safety at truck stops, especially at night.
Depending on your route, you might find yourself having to stop for a rest, or overnight, in some less than savoury places. If this happens, you want to ensure you’re stopped in a well-lit, public area to make yourself less of a target. Once you’re ready to turn in, make sure your doors are locked and there are no valuables on show. And for extra protection, here’s a tip from our experienced driver trainers. Take your seatbelt, and wrap it around your door handle. Finish the wrap with the buckle facing towards you, pull it tight and plug it into the seatbelt clip. This keeps your door shut tight, so even if your locks fail or someone gets past them, they still won’t be able to open your door. It’s the best way to ensure you sleep soundly and safely.
Unfortunately you can’t prevent everything, and you might one day find your HGV being robbed while you are inside the cab. And while your instincts might tell you to jump out and try to stop it – don’t. This could result in you getting hurt or worse, and no cargo or job is worth that. Instead, make sure you are safe – lock your doors, start your engine, turn on all your lights and hazards, and lean on your horn. That might be enough to scare them off – as no thief likes attention. But don’t rely on it. Once you’re safe, call the police, explain the situation and stay where you are until they arrive. Knowing how to react in an emergency like this could very well save your life, so it’s important to rehearse this in your head every so often.
We know that in an ideal world, these are the kind of tips you wouldn’t need to know, and we wouldn’t need to teach. But sadly, these things do happen, and HGV drivers can become the targets of thievery and vandalism just because of the cargo they carry. But since we can’t change that, we can prepare you for it, and get you ready to prevent any issues as well as you can. If you’re smart about safety, then thieves are likely to look elsewhere for easier pickings. All of this is covered in our HGV training courses, and if you would like to know more, please just get in touch with us today.