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Top Tips For Safe HGV Driving in Winter

HGV Training Centre

A career as an HGV driver can be an excellent opportunity with anyone with a passion for
transportation, and a desire for more freedom at work. Not only can you earn an incredible income in
today’s expert-short marketplace, but you can also enjoy a reliable, and versatile job, packed with
opportunities to meet new people, and see new places.

However, driving an HGV isn’t the same as operating a car. HGVs are large, complex pieces of
machinery, which require specific training to master. During certain seasons, your driving experience
may pose additional challenges. For instance, during summer, you’ll need to think about how you can
stay cool and focused on the roads.

During the unpredictable winter months, you’ll need to be prepared for a range of potential issues,
from broken heaters, to black ice and fog. Here are our tops for safe driving during the winter season,
so you can continue to thrive in your HGV career.

1. Stay Informed with a Weather App

Technology can really make a difference to your life as an HGV driver, whether you’re using a
convenient GPS system, or just taking advantage of the latest Bluetooth streaming tools to listen to
your favourite tunes as you drive. During the winter months, it’s worth taking advantage of the tech
world to ensure you stay up-to-date on weather information.

A smartphone app can alert you of impending weather issues ranging from the extreme glare caused by
the winter sun to torrential downpours. Use your weather app to watch out for the following issues:

  • Snow and ice: Snow can significantly harm your visibility on the roads, while ice increases
    your chances of skidding. If you know the roads are going to be particularly cold, you may
    need to invest in some tyre chains, or choose pre-gritted routes.
  • Winter sun: Winter sun can be a great way to chase away dreary days during the cold
    months, but it can also cause glare when it’s paired with ice. Make sure you have a pair of
    sunglasses at the ready – just in case.
  • Heavy rain: Rain is something most HGV drivers are used to in the UK, but extremely heavy
    downpours can make it difficult to drive. Ensure you have a good set of window wipers in
    place, and a good set of grippy tyres.
  • Storms: Lighting and major storms can be a threat to HGV drivers with particularly large
    vehicles. After all, lightning is drawn to large metallic objects. Check with your boss about
    whether you should drive through storms.
  • Fog: Mist and fog represent significant problems for visibility. If you’re unable to see far
    enough due to a misty road, you should consider waiting until the fog passes to continue. Or
    perhaps take a different route.

2. Check Your HGV Vehicle Before Every Journey

Just as you need to check the weather forecast to ensure you’re appropriately prepared for your
driving session; you’ll also need to evaluate the current state of your HGV vehicle. Most drivers will
perform these checks regularly anyway, as it’s important to know your truck is safe any time of year.

When the weather starts getting a little colder, consider making a checklist of the things you need to
test before you head out into the road. Some of the points to look at include:

  • The heating system: Is it working properly to keep you warm?
  • Tyres: Are they balanced and in good condition to keep you safe on the road?
  • Wipers: Do you have a good set of wipers in place to tackle the rain?
  • Battery: Is your battery in good condition, or does it need to be serviced?
  • Lights: Are your lights working properly? Can you use your fog lights effectively?
  • Fluid levels: Is everything topped up? Do you have enough fuel?

If you notice anything that might be wrong with your vehicle during the winter, it’s a good idea to get
it fixed before you start any long-haul journeys. The last thing you want is to break down in the cold
in the middle of nowhere.

3. Design a Survival Kit

Having a survival kit in your HGV with you might seem a little extreme if you’ve never encountered
any issues on the road. However, it can be an important part of staying safe during winter. Some
companies will even offer these kits as standard to support their workers.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for the right survival kit, there are a few things you should
always have on-hand in case of an emergency. Start with basic essentials, like a scraper and de-icer
for your vehicle, as well as some extra blankets and layers in case you get cold. A shovel and a bag of
salt or sand will also help with large amounts of snow.

Other things to add to your kit might include:

  •  A flashlight or torch
  • Jumper cables
  • Water and extra food
  • A first-aid kit
  • Tyre chains
  • Extra windshield fluid
  • High-visibility clothing
  • A thermos with hot drinks

Talk to your boss and your colleagues about their winter survival kit recommendations to see if
there’s anything you’ve missed. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your kit, but it helps to know its
there in case of emergencies.

4. Put Your Safety First

Any good HGV driver will always put safety first. During the winter months, however, you’ll need to
be extra vigilant. It’s not just your driving that will influence your safety on the roads during winter,
but the behaviour of other people too. Make sure you:

  • Drive slowly: Slow down when the roads are wet, icy, or foggy. If your visibility is impaired,
    it’s best to avoid having to brake sharply at any point. You’ll also want to be extra cautious
    when you’re passing over bridges, as these locations are often skipped by gritters.
  • Give yourself space: Make sure you leave plenty of space between yourself and other drivers
    on the road. This ensures you won’t get into any trouble if someone else starts swerving
    because of an ice patch. Make sure you keep an eye out for hazards as you go.
  • Take regular breaks: Know when to take a break. The winter can play havoc with your
    health and concentration, so it’s important to get rest. If you need time to stop and warm up
    on your journey, make sure you take it.

It’s also worth knowing when you should stop driving and wait for bad weather to pass. If you can’t
see the road in front of you clearly, it’s best to wait in a safe area, rather than continuing with your
travel. Even if you arrive at your destination late, at least you’ll be safe.

Become the Ultimate HGV Driver

The good news is that why driving an HGV in winter can have its challenges, the right training will
prepare you to tackle anything. The education you get when you decide to become an HGV driver
will include plenty of tips on how to stay safe on the roads – any time of year.
Contact HGV Training today to start your journey into your new career, and make sure you can stay
safe whatever the weather.

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