Posted on 23rd Feb, 2017 by Jonathan Peach
Drivers of Heavy Goods Vehicles may often find themselves called upon to make international journeys, whether that’s just across the Channel or further afield in Europe. While our blog last week goes into detail about the laws to be aware of when driving abroad, HGV drivers should also ensure they’re prepared in more immediate physical terms for the journey before setting off.
Safety is always a priority on the road, and it’s never more true than when driving abroad. Differences in driving culture – not to mention obvious alternate practices like driving on the other side of the road – mean that in certain circumstances, accidents can have a high potentially higher risk of occurring. Roundabouts, for example, are a common pitfall for HGV drivers travelling abroad, as their paths and directions can sometimes seems counterintuitive, or even downright contradictory to concurrent rules of the road. For this reason, it’s imperative for HGV drivers to pack emergency safety gear when making international journeys. Some countries, such as Portugal and Spain, have even made it illegal for drivers to travel without high-visibility vests for drivers and occupants. What’s more, they need to be judged to be accessible at all times.
Given that in the event of an accident an HGV poses a particularly big obstacle for passing motorists, the need for hi-vis jackets becomes all the more apparent. France is another country which has made it illegal for any motorist – domestic or foreign – to travel without a warning triangle, breathalyser, and a spare set of bulbs for headlights. HGV drivers without these items could find themselves facing fines during routine stops; or worse, in the case of an accident.
Documentation When Driving Abroad
In terms of documentation, the very first thing drivers should ensure they take with them is their full UK driving licence. It’s important to make sure that it’s valid and in date, or it will be null and void, which could mean serious legal repercussions – especially given the potentially dangerous nature of many HGVs. An international driving licence is also something to look into before the outward journey begins, as police in countries such as Italy may demand to see one. The registration documents of the vehicle should also be close to hand at all times – it needs to be the original rather than a copy. A potentially overlooked necessary addition is a letter of authorisation from the vehicle’s owner – drivers making business journeys for their employer should always have one with them, just in case.
It’s always wise to carry out some research on the highway rules of the country in question before the journey begins, as some nations have very distinctive laws that might not be immediately obvious to UK drivers. It’s imperative also to take into account that should an accident occur while abroad, collisions involving HGVs are often far more serious in nature than those between smaller vehicles. There’s also the matter of the legal complications that arise from the fact of being abroad. For these reasons, it’s a good idea for drivers to check with their vehicle insurer before undertaking the journey.
As additional security, Vision Techniques can provide vehicle and business owners with VT Record; a mobile video recording solution that can help prove liability and provide evidence to exonerate drivers in the event of collisions, potentially averting lengthy and costly legal proceedings. Feel free to read our case studies to find out how we’ve already helped customers just like you, or alternatively you can start browsing our full range of vehicle safety products.
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