The Highways Agency reports that trucks and HGVs are involved in 25% of all road accidents, despite the fact that they comprise a fraction of the overall traffic. It's a shocking statistic which the following simple guidelines aim to tackle:
Check your vehicle: It stands to reason that you are only as safe as your vehicle, and it makes sense to run a simple set of checks every time you get behind the wheel. As a driver you're responsible for the condition of your vehicle and the Law simply won't allow you to offload blame on to the truck's owner. Don't forget to check your tyres for both pressure and tread; which must be at least one millimetre deep. If the police deem your truck to be unsafe you'll be given a hefty fine and your truck may be impounded.
Don't tailgate: Cast your mind back to your first driving lessons and you'll remember the saying that 'only a fool breaks the three second rule'. Maintaining a safe distance between your truck and the vehicle in front allows adequate time for braking and reduces the risk of jack-knifing.
Wear your seatbelt: It's a popular misconception that truck drivers don't have to wear seatbelts. In fact, you're legally bound to belt-up (unless you're making deliveries every 50m) and for one very good reason: seatbelts are proven to save lives.
Go 'hands free': While the government dithers about harsher penalties for using a mobile phone when driving the RTA statistics speak for themselves. A recent study by the AA concluded that drivers are four times more likely to have an accident while using a mobile phone, and with 'hands-free' kits costing less than £100 - there's really no excuse.
Stay Alert: Set off on any UK motorway and it won't be long before you are confronted with a sign screaming 'Tiredness Kills Take a Break'. Tiredness is one of the biggest killers on the motorway, with drivers falling asleep accounting for one in five motorway collisions. The Highway Code recommends that you stop at least every two hours, so plan extra stopping time into your journey. And if you are feeling tired; forget about your tacho and take a break.
Steer clear of drink & drugs: While many drivers think that they know their limits; the glaring truth is that you are safest behind the wheel with no alcohol in your blood. Recently there's been plenty of talk in Whitehall about a zero tolerance approach to drink driving and it's difficult to think of a convincing argument against such a measure. Driving while under the influence of illegal drugs is as absurd as it is illegal. However, it's much easier to overlook the potential side effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs which can cause drowsiness.
Secure your load: As a driver it's up to you to make sure that your truck isn't overloaded and that your cargo is secure. Bear in mind that curtains are often meant to protect, rather than secure, your load, so it's best to double-check that all straps are taut before setting-off.
Avoid sideswiping: Indicate to give other road users plenty of advanced warning that you are about to manoeuvre and then double-check that the target lane is empty before changing. Take extra care if you are driving behind a truck with foreign license plates; as left-hand drive vehicles have a sizeable blind-spot when driving on UK roads. Thankfully the introduction of window mounted 'fresnel' lenses on overseas vehicles has reduced the number of sideswiping collisions, but it still pays to be cautious.
Plan Ahead: It's often said that the most important part of a journey takes place before you set off, and 10 minutes spent planning will make for a safer and more relaxing trip. You'll need to consider: Route, Duration and Weather.
Route: While the majority of today's cabs are fitted with Sat Nav it pays to check your route on a good 'old fashioned' map. And remember that the most appropriate route won't necessarily be the most direct route.
Duration: Make sure that you have enough time to get to your destination safely and without rushing. Allow additional time for unplanned stops and delays.
Weather: Check the Met Office's website at www.metoffice.gov.uk for real-time forecasts and keep an eye open for: wind, rain, fog and ice. Make sure your truck is prepared for the anticipated conditions and adjust your schedule accordingly.
Safe driving has its own obvious rewards, but don't forget that building-up your no claims bonus will mean cheaper insurance premiums next year. Quoteline Direct specialises in providing competitive Truck Insurance tailored to your individual business needs. For a quick quote click here or call 0161 874 8020 to speak with a member of our commercial team.