The conclusion of the holiday season does not signify the conclusion of winter conditions in the United Kingdom. On the contrary, it is merely the start. Each year, we encounter a barrage of freezing weather, ranging From sleet and snow to ice and rain. Being a driver already comes with its own set of anxieties, but for HGV drivers operating larger vehicles, the risks can be even more substantial.
If you have recently obtained your HGV licence and are eager to begin your new role as a driver, it is crucial to be adequately ready for the specific obstacles that the winter season may present. Here are a few essential pointers to help you stay on course.
Get Your Vehicle Ready
In order to ensure that your HGV is in proper working condition, it is important to conduct some checks on your own. Although larger companies typically have specialists who inspect their fleet, it is advisable to personally perform a few checks for your peace of mind.
Begin by thoroughly analysing the following aspects:
- Your heating system: It is crucial to ensure its functionality, especially during extremely cold temperatures.
- Check your tyres to ensure they are in the best condition for winter driving.
- It is important to check the condition of your windscreen wipers and make sure they are in good working order to effectively remove snow.
- It is crucial for defrosters to be in proper working condition as well.
- It is recommended to inspect the engine block heater in order to prevent freezing overnight.
- Be sure to check fluid levels of oil, screenwash and radiator fluid.
- Check your lights are operational and are clear of any dirt.
- Be sure that the exhaust is free of any snow or ice.
When assessing the readiness of your heavy goods vehicle (HGV) for operation, it is important to adhere to any guidelines provided by your supervisor. In case you detect any irregularities or discrepancies, it is advisable to seek clarification before taking control of the vehicle.
During winter weather conditions, it is not only your vehicle that can be problematic, but the weather itself can also affect you. As a knowledgeable driver, it is crucial to adapt your driving techniques in order to avoid encountering icy patches. Being mentally prepared plays a significant role in ensuring your safety on the road. It is important to practise cautious driving, as sudden and abrupt manoeuvres can result in losing control of a large vehicle. Here are some key points to bear in mind:
- It is crucial for drivers, especially HGV drivers, to slow down as speeding is a major cause of accidents. HGV drivers, in particular, face challenges in stopping their vehicles quickly due to their size and weight.
- Allowing for additional space can reduce the chances of encountering difficulties when your tires skid or slide. Although hazardous weather is commonly associated with snow and ice, fog and rain can also pose problems. The inclusion of a wider stopping distance can mitigate these risks.
- Maintain a consistent driving style by easing on the brakes and staying confident behind the wheel.
Build Your Own Survival Kit
Hopefully, you won’t have to utilise this kit at all throughout your tenure as a HGV driver. However, it’s always better to be prepared than regretful. Ensure that you possess the necessary tools for any potential scenarios that you may come across during hazardous weather conditions.
For example, you may require:
- A tool for removing ice and a substance for melting ice.
- When it comes to addressing slippery surfaces, having a shovel and a supply of salt or sand is essential.
- Jump leads are a useful tool to help restart a vehicle. They provide a temporary electrical connection between the dead battery of one car and the working battery of another, allowing the dead battery
- When the temperature drops, it’s essential to have appropriate attire and bedding to keep warm.
- A container of steaming tea or coffee
- Ample water and additional sustenance
- Eyewear designed specifically to
- A medical emergency supplies bag
- Reflective safety vests that are easily noticeable.
- A torch.
When embarking on your travels, it is advisable to have an additional fuel supply readily available as a precautionary measure. This will come in handy in case your trips extend beyond the scheduled time or if you encounter the need to take an alternative path.
Verify Prior to Operating a Vehicle
Prior to driving, it can be highly beneficial to take certain precautions that can greatly simplify your life. For instance, staying informed about weather conditions and being mindful of any changes or road closures can prevent experiencing roadblocks. It is advisable to plan your route in the morning before embarking on your journey and proactively check for any potential obstacles.
It is crucial for HGV drivers to have knowledge about potential hazards that can pose significant challenges. These hazards can lead to various issues and complications.
- Black ice is a hazardous road condition that frequently appears as a clear layer of ice, giving the illusion of a wet road. If not approached with utmost caution, it can easily lead to the skidding and veering of your HGV.
- In the UK, gritters do not always de-ice bridges, so it is important to exercise caution when approaching any elevated structure to ensure your safety.
- Familiarise yourself with the potential dangers of heavy rain and its impact on visibility. Maintain a steady grip on the steering wheel and exercise caution when applying the brakes, avoiding excessive force.
- When encountering dense fog, it is important to reduce your speed and maximise the use of your headlights. It is crucial not to succumb to any external pressure to drive faster than your own comfort level allows.
Prioritise Safety at All Times
As an HGV driver, the desire to excel and reach your destination quickly can be enticing. Nonetheless, prioritising safety must always take precedence. Neglecting the hazards of winter weather or attempting to travel at excessive speeds and distances beyond reasonable limits can have devastating consequences.
Knowing when to cease driving is a crucial aspect of prioritising safety. It is important to distinguish between the appropriate and inappropriate times to stop driving. In instances where weather conditions become extremely hazardous and driving becomes impractical, it is advised not to abruptly apply the brakes or veer off to the side, as these actions can escalate potential risks. Instead, it is recommended to promptly identify a secure location to bring the vehicle to a halt.
In certain situations, it may be necessary to wait for a period of time for visibility to improve. During this time, it is important to regularly communicate with your supervisor and provide updates regarding your situation. Furthermore, if you’re an older driver, it’s crucial to be aware of CPC grandfather rights to understand your position better within the industry regulations.
Tips for Ensuring Safety During the Winter Season
Driving HGVs can be a lucrative and thrilling profession for many individuals in the UK. It is crucial to approach each job with caution, especially during the perilous winter months when road conditions become treacherous. Being knowledgeable about safety measures is essential in order to remain secure. By following the aforementioned guidelines and possessing the necessary HGV certification, one can effectively navigate through inclement weather conditions.