We’ve had our first really cold snap of the year, and with ice and snow on the horizon, the gritting lorries are out in force to keep road users safe over the winter months. While the roads at this time of year are usually a bit sketchy, when it comes to HGV’s they are treacherous. With stopping distances extended, low visibility and the road conditions slippery or even icy, a loaded down lorry can post a real hazard if it isn’t driven safely. So today, we’re going to share a few tips to help you keep yourself, your HGV and other road users safe this winter.
Give Your HGV Some TLC
Before you do anything else, you need to get your HGV into tip-top shape. A well cared for vehicle is much less likely to have problems in the cold, wet and windy weather, and this could save you hours sat at the side of the road waiting for assistance. So, book your HGV in for a service and general health check. Get things like your brakes, cam belt and suspension tested and tuned up if they need it. Before you head out on any journey, give your vehicle a once over to check the wiper blades, fluid levels, headlights and brake lights are all working and full. And make sure you always have more than half a tank of fuel on board. This will help keep your vehicle in shape and safe on the road.
Pack for Winter
Once you’ve taken care of your HGV’s safety, you need to prepare yourself as well. Because when the weather gets bad, it’s all too easy to get stranded, or need some extra tools to help you get home. So, now that the weather is getting colder, grab yourself a big gym bag and pack a winter survival kit. This can include anything you think you might need during a drive, for all possible outcomes. At a minimum, it should include:
- Warm winter clothes
- A raincoat
- Gloves, scarf and hat
- A torch with extra batteries
- A blanket
- Sone non-perishable foods (protein and breakfast bars are great for this)
- A bottle of water
- A first aid kit
- De-icer and windscreen scraper
Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list. Tailor your winter kit bag to suit you, and make sure you keep it in your HGV cab at all times. If you need to refill it at any point, make sure that you do.
Practice Safe Driving
Now it’s time to drive! Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for driving safely in adverse weather conditions. Most of it is just common sense and patience. The important thing to remember is that your employer would rather you and your delivery get to your destination in one piece a little late, than have it strewn over the road and you in hospital because you were rushing to meet a deadline. But while there are no magic tricks, there are a few basic rules you can follow to drive safely in the snow:
- Slow is key: The weather and the conditions are unpredictable in the winter, and you need to be able to react to them without causing any damage. That means slow and steady in everything you do. For one thing, your tyres won’t have as much traction in cold weather (thanks to ice and sleet), so you will need more distance to stop than usual.
- Avoid sudden stops: It’s all too easy to stomp on the brake at the last minute, but during winter that’s a really bad idea. Instead, you want to focus on braking gradually, giving yourself more space in front and behind.
- Keep an eye out for black ice: This is one of the most dangerous things on the road, and it’s all too easy to be caught out by it. Keep your eyes open and scanning the rod surface for black ice patches, and avoid them when you can.
- Check your windscreen: If you spot ice building up on your antennae or in the top corners of your windshield, then the conditions are ideal for black ice to start forming.
Winter is never a fun time to be on the roads, but as a professional HGV driver, it’s your job to not only be out there but be the safest thing on the road. Keep an eye out for other drivers, and keep your HGV safe at all times. You might feel like you’re being overly cautious at times, but that’s ok. It’s much better than the alternative! To find out more about keeping you and your deliveries safe in the winter weather, just get in touch with the team at the LGV Training Company today.