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Understanding HGV Safety Regulations

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As a professional driver of a heavy goods vehicle, there are a lot of regulations you need to abide by. HGV safety is a big concern on its own, given how large and heavy the vehicles are, but it has been thrown into the limelight thanks to several high-profile cases recently. So we wanted to provide you with a short guide to understanding some of the safety regulations around HGV driving, and what your responsibilities are as a driver. This list is by no means exhaustive, so to view the full regulations, visit the Government website for their comprehensive safety and maintenance guides.

Rest Hours

The rest periods of all HGV drivers are carefully regulated to ensure the safety of you, your goods and others on the road. You are required to take a 45-minute break for every 4.5 hours of driving that you do. This can be taken in splits, so you could drive for 2 hours, take a 15-minute break, drive for another 2 hours, take a 30-minute break and then drive for 4.5 hours. But you must not take these breaks the other way around – your shorter break should always come first. In any given week, you can only work for 56 hours, with a 2 week rolling limit of 90 hours works split across 2 weeks. So you could work for 34 hours in week 1, 56 hours in week 2 and 34 hours in week 3, as this would add up to 90 hours in each 2 week period and avoid going over your allocated 56 hours work. But you could not work 2 weeks of 56 hours followed by 1 of 34 – this would mean your first 2 weeks added up to 112 hours and went over the 2-week rolling limit. You are also required to have a set period of weekly rest that totals 45 hours, split however you choose. Breaking these working hours rules could result in a fixed penalty of £300, a graduated deposit of up to £1500 or you could even be summoned to court. These regulations are there to ensure that HGV drivers aren’t driving tired, as this is a big contributing factor to accidents. These limits can take some time to get used to, so if you aren’t sure to make sure you ask your instructor and they will explain further.

Daily Walk Around Checks

Unfortunately, you can’t just hop into your cab and start driving at the start of your shift. In order comply with Government safety regulations, you need to do a full walk around check of your vehicle before you start driving. This is a 21-point check, and you must complete everyone, otherwise you could receive a fixed penalty and points on your license. Luckily, some of these are very quick to check off. Your daily 21-point check should include:

  • Checking the condition of the brake lines
  • Ensuring the security of the load
  • Verifying that your number plate is still in place and secure
  • Testing all electrical connections
  • Cleaning your markers
  • Ensuring reflectors are clean and functional
  • Checking your tyres for tread depth and punctures, and checking wheel fixings
  • Examining your spray suppression
  • Inspection the security of the body and wings around your 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 your 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

For more information or a refresher course on how to keep your vehicle in good condition and drive safety, get in touch with us today or book onto one of our bespoke HGV driver courses.  

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