Top tips for safe trucking

Any professional lorry driver worth his or her salt is likely to tell you that the safety of their truck and of other road users is paramount. Even so, according to the Campaign for Better Transport, HGVs currently account for more than half of all motorway driving fatalities, yet they represent only one tenth of the traffic using these roads.

In the face of such an alarming statistic, what is being done and what might you be able to do to make trucking safer?

  • a lot has been said about the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) and not all of it good;
  • nevertheless the Driver CPC represents a further layer of official testing of drivers’ competence and safety consciousness in respect of such issues as vehicle safety, hazard perception and the securing of loads;
  • as a professional truck driver, you are facing the prospect of 35 hours of training every five years in order to maintain your Certificate of Professional Competence, but there are still many more things you might do on a daily basis to safer driving;
  • after all, you are the driver and the driver is responsible for the condition of the vehicle he or she is driving;
  • something as simple as a daily check of your vehicle might enable you to spot trouble before it develops into a serious problem;
  • if you are involved in an accident knowing that your vehicle is somehow unsafe, you may discover to your cost that this has made your lorry haulage insurance invalid;
  • a secure load is a safe load – once again, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that his load is secure and that side-curtains, for example, are not hiding the fact that all straps have been properly tightened;
  • a similar statement of the obvious extends to checking the tread, pressure and condition of your lorry’s tyres;
  • before setting off, you might want to take a few moments to plan ahead by taking into account such aspects as the route you are taking, the weather you are likely to encounter and the time it might take to get to your destination;
  • once on the road, you need to stay alert – that means getting enough sleep before you set off and planning a rest break every couple of hours (as recommended by the Highway Code);
  • staying alert also means staying clear of alcohol or drugs – the law takes an especially dim view of driving whilst under the influence of either and quite rightly too, since alcohol or drug use may seriously impair your judgment;
  • seatbelts save lives – only if you are stopping and starting every 100 yards or so are you exempt from the requirement to wear a seatbelt;
  • whilst keeping yourself that bit safer by wearing a seatbelt, you may be asking for trouble if you then indulge in something as distracting as trying to make or receive a call on a handheld phone.

This list is by no means exhaustive and no single tip may be seen as a guarantee for safer trucking. Taken together, however, the underlying awareness of what to do and what not to do may go a long way to making life safer for you and for other road users.