Road safety for foreign HGV drivers

When heavy goods vehicle drivers come to the UK, assuming they do so from a European country, they are likely to find significant differences to the driving environment and culture compared to those that may have previously encountered in Europe.

If you are one such driver, here are a few tips you may wish to keep in mind – and you can find some more on the government’s site*.

Drive on the left

Yes, it sounds obvious and you will be bombarded with road signs reminding you of that (plus prevailing speed limits) within a few kilometres of the major ports in the United Kingdom.

Even so, first thing in the morning or perhaps when driving off having finished a break for food, concentration can slip and you may find yourself automatically moving on to the right hand side of the road.

Stay alert on this one – and in passing, make sure your haulage insurance is valid for the UK.

Keep out of the outside lane on three lane motorways

Heavy goods vehicles above a certain size and weight are forbidden to use the outside lane.

Keep in mind also that, unlike in some European countries, the police in the United Kingdom will take a dim view of extensive traffic jams being caused by heavy goods vehicles driving in parallel as one tries, often unsuccessfully, to overtake the other.

Have local repair and emergency phone numbers to hand

In the UK, motorway service areas may not have garages and repair facilities associated with them, as is sometimes the case in other European countries.


This is called different things in different countries but essentially involves another vehicle closing up dangerously close to the vehicle in front of them in order to pressurise the vehicle at the front to speed up or move over.

Whilst this is an acceptable part of driving culture in some European countries, it is considered to be extremely reckless and highly dangerous in the United Kingdom. That is particularly the case for heavy goods vehicles.

Be aware that if you close up to vehicle in front of you and start trying to intimidate them with your lights and size, expect to shortly be engaging in an in-depth discussion with the police.

A postscript on this one – the UK road network is more widely covered by CCTV than many in Europe.

Audible warnings

In a similar fashion, note that the use of long blasts on the horn to show frustration is considered to be extremely bad and unprofessional driving practice in United Kingdom.

In fact, sounding your horn for purposes other than an emergency may be considered to be an offence. Do not pointlessly start to do so in traffic jams and so on – unless once again you wish to spend time on the side of the road being questioned by the police.

Parking for deliveries and collections

Many British commercial drivers are somewhat jealous of their European counterparts in one respect.

Most objective observers would state that it is far easier to drive into the centre of many European cities, park and then load or unload, than is the case in the United Kingdom.

Be warned that even the smallest British towns will often have very zealous parking wardens and police officers who will very quickly arrive with penalty and removal notices in the case of the slightest transgressions with respect to parking regulations.

It would be highly advisable to take the advice of your collection or delivery point with respect to local parking before setting off.