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The 4 Main HGV Accidents (And How To Avoid Them)

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No one likes to think about getting into an accident – especially a car accident. But as a professional HGV driver, road accidents need to be on your radar, as HGVs are some of the most common elements in road traffic accidents. Not only that, but very high HGV accidents tend to be fatal due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicles involved. An HGV travelling at 50 mph is capable of tearing through a house (which happened in Barnsley in 2018, when a woman was killed after a stolen lorry crashed and took out a sizeable portion of her house).

So, given how much of a risk HGVs can pose on the road, it’s important for all drivers to understand the most common causes of these accidents, and what they can do to avoid becoming just another statistic.

Bridges

HGVs getting stuck under bridges or causing them to collapse under their weight might seem amusing, but it’s incredibly expensive and dangerous. The annual cost of repairing bridges after HGV incidents is around £23 million a year, with over 2000 bridge incidents reported by the railway service alone last year. Not to mention that getting an HGV wedged under a bridge does massive damage to the vehicle, which isn’t as structurally sound at the top as it is at the bottom, and so much more expensive to repair.

Tips to avoid bridge accidents:

  • Use a sat nav that has been specifically made for HGVs, as these are programmed to avoid low bridges.
  • Know the height and width of the vehicle you’re driving. If you regularly change vehicles, make sure it is written down before you begin your journey.
  • If you’re not sure your HGV will fit, don’t even attempt to cross or go under a bridge.

Health

HGV drivers are regularly assessed for their health, both when they are training to become a driver, and again throughout their career. That’s because if a driver has a health episode behind the wheel, the results can be catastrophic. As they were in 2013, when a major accident in Scotland cost Catherine Bonner her life, and severely injured her husband Jim McColl, because the driver of an HGV had a seizure, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into their house. Making sure you are regularly checking your health is a key part of HGV drivers work, although it isn’t talked about enough.

Tips to avoid medical accidents:

  • Have regular check-ups with your GP to ensure you are healthy and to catch any underlying problems early.
  • Assess your overall health on a weekly basis, and keep a note of any changes.
  • Make sure you exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and keep mentally active to keep your mind and body in peak health.

Road Rage

Everyone gets a little angry behind the wheel sometimes. And while it’s OK to occasionally swear at the guy who just cut you up on the motorway, more serious rod rage can cause problems. HGVs are a lot slower to react than cars, and road rage can lead to you making stupid decisions and taking unnecessary risks that it might be difficult to recover from. HGV drivers with road rage cost people their lives, so it’s important to keep your temper under control behind the wheel.

Tips for avoiding road rage accidents:

  • Make sure you’re sleeping properly. Chronic lack of sleep has been proven to impair your ability to think and make decisions.
  • Plan your routes to make sure you’re not under any pressure to make your deliveries on time.
  • This has been proven to lower stress levels and help keep a clear mind and a healthy mental state.

Speeding

Everyone who drives a car has probably been guilty of speeding at least once, even if you weren’t caught. But when you’re driving an HGV, you’re driving a vehicle that takes time to respond to braking and gives you much less time to manoeuvre in an emergency. Speeding means you may be in an accident before you even have time to respond, and even if you do see the signs, your vehicle might not be able to stop in time. Add in things like weather, which can significantly change how your vehicle responds, and speeding is a recipe for disaster.

Tips to avoid speeding accidents:

  • Never go over the speed limit for large goods vehicles
  • Always check the weather forecast before a journey, and leave enough time to ensure you’re not under any time pressure for your deliveries
  • Check the condition of your tires before setting out. If they don’t have a good amount of treat, they won’t be able to dissipate water as well in heavy rain, which will impact your stopping times and control.

 

 

At The HGV Training Centre, we understand the importance of educating drivers about the risks they face, and how to avoid getting into preventable accidents. That’s why it’s such a key focus of our training, and one we are always happy to advise about. If you would like to know more about our HGV training courses, just get in touch today.

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