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How Regulations Keep HGV’s Safe

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HGV’s are big, heavy vehicles, with the potential to cause a lot of chaos and damage. There’s no denying that one. And the destructive potential of these (and all other) vehicles was proven this month, when 2 HGV’s collided with a minibus on the M1, killing 8 people. After this, many people have been shouting for the improvement of HGV safety rules. But what most of these people don’t realise is there are already pretty strict rules on the safety of HGV’s, and how to keep the roads safe.

The Standard Road Rules

Right out of the gate, HGV drivers are required to abide by all of the standard road rules and the highway code, just like every other vehicle on the road. This means not going over the speed limit, not driving drunk or tired, and not using a phone while driving. They must also ensure their vehicle is MOT’d and insured, and that they hold all of the relevant qualifications needed to drive the vehicle. So at a baseline, HGV’s should be as safe as a standard car when on the roads.  

Speed Limiting

If you’ve ever driven behind an HGV, you know that they tend to travel slower than other vehicles on the road. This is mainly because most HGV’s come with built-in speed limiters, stopping drivers from exceeding speed limits or driving at unsafe speeds. Limiting the speed of HGV’s also means that drivers can always break and come to a stop safely, significantly reducing the risk of accidents.

Mandatory Rest And Driving Time Limits

Driving is tiring work that’s taxing on the concentration. Anyone who’s driven a long distance before knows how exhausting sitting behind the wheel for hours at a time is. That’s why professional drivers are required to take mandatory rest breaks of 45 minutes every 4.5 hours – and compliance is strictly enforced. On top of that, there are regulations around the cumulative number of hours a driver can work in a given week, and 2-week period. Drivers can only drive for a total of 36 in one week, and a total of 90 in a rolling 2-week period. This reduces the risk of driver burnout, reduces driver fatigue and keeps all road users safe.

Safety Technology

Because they are such big vehicles that can be challenging to manoeuvre, HGV’s come equipped with safety equipment above and beyond the ordinary level of car safety. For example, a good HGV will have:

  • Rear view cameras
  • Reversing cameras
  • Vehicle radars
  • GPS tracking
  • Digital video recorders (DVR)
  • RFID technology
  • Auto breaking systems
  • Mirror monitors

Installed to help its driver see every angle clearly and ensure the safety of them and other road users.

Vehicle Safety Checks

Before an HGV driver can set off on their journeys, they are required to do a series of checks to ensure their vehicle is in top working order. These checks must be carried out every day, and include:

  • 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

Training And Qualifications

And finally, HGV drivers must pass a rigorous qualification and training regimen in order to legally drive an HGV on Britain’s roads. This starts with having passed their standard car driving test (to prove they know the rules of the road and the basics of driving safely. After that, every driver is required to undertake safety training, learn how to operate such a large vehicle, how to do safety checks and extensive manoeuvres training. If they don’t meet the high standards set by the HGV licensing tests, then they will fail, and be denied their license.

At The HGV Training Centre, we pride ourselves on providing intensive, high-quality training for aspiring HGV drivers in the south. Our expert trainers work with new drivers to help them understand their obligations to the public, and how to keep themselves, and everyone else, safe on the roads. For more information, or to book your first training session, just get in touch with us today.

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