Checklist for HGV driver safety
HGV drivers are actually some of the most careful drivers you’ll find out on UK roads. To qualify as an HGV driver, candidates must undergo extensive additional training to help them accurately judge and handle the vehicle’s significant size and weight.
Although this means they’re typically responsible, careful drivers, they’re not immune to human error, and one unfortunate but fundamental fact of HGV driving is that even the rarest and most simple mistakes have a much greater potential to cause harm than those of any other drivers.
We’ve explored some of the most serious risks below, and the consequences they can involve. Here at Vision Techniques, we’re committed to doing our part to make roads safer, so we’ve also made some suggestions as to which of our innovative technologies can be used to mitigate the risks.
1. Cyclist safety
The differences between HGVs and cyclists are clear to see at a glance – The size and weight of HGVs – and the height of the cabin from the ground. Cyclists are silent, small, quick and close to the ground, which means they can be easily missed even by the most meticulous of HGV drivers. Therefore, drivers must stay as diligent and alert at all times, so that they can react faster to avoid an accident. Failing to check for cyclists can be a momentary lapse, but it’s one that could have significant consequences.
That being said, cyclists must bear at least some responsibility to keep themselves alert to the intentions and movements of HGVs themselves – there’s not much a driver can do if they’ve already started a left turn just as a cyclist starts to undertake them on the inside.
That’s where our cyclist safety products are designed to help. They comprise several systems that can detect, track and monitor nearby cyclists, using audible or visual alarms to alert the driver to an impending collision. As well as making life easier for drivers, some of our products are also designed to improve the visibility of cyclists, such as our Visible Cyclist warning – built to provide plenty of forewarning of an HGV’s intention to turn left.
2. Forgetting to put the handbrake on
Once the HGV comes to a stop, it’s easy to see why attention spans can start to lapse. After all, the actual driving is almost universally considered to be the hard part. However, forgetting to apply the handbrake when the HGV is parked on an incline or slope can lead to dangerous rollaways.
It’s not just limited to HGVs, either – in recent years, notable rollaways have included family cars, coaches, and even London buses. Unless the handbrake is applied, the vehicle can roll downhill to end up in busy junctions, roundabouts or even residential streets, which can lead to massive property damage at best (especially if the HGV is loaded with cargo), or worse, even loss of life.
Our very own Brakesafe system has been designed to mitigate these very serious risks. If the driver leaves the cab without applying the handbrake, the system will immediately and automatically do it for them, stopping the vehicle from causing a devastating and preventable accident.
Out of all the risks we’ve outlined so far, this is probably one of the most commonly underestimated.
Experts have been saying for some years now that the average British person falls some way short of the recommended 8 hours sleep per night, so it can be easy to see why so many of us (including some HGV drivers) assume that we’re getting on perfectly well without those extra hours.
However, for HGV drivers, the risks are far more substantial than nodding off in a morning meeting, and even more pressing given that drivers often find themselves travelling countless miles on tight schedules. Losing consciousness at the wheel – whether due to lack of rest or not – poses a massive risk to safety.
Our Stopsafe emergency brake system has been developed following on from one such tragedy in Glasgow in 2014, where the driver of a refuse vehicle fell unconscious at the wheel, killing six people and injuring fifteen others.
We developed StopSafe directly in response to this incident. The system has recently approved by the VCA, and nominated as a finalist in the FTA innovation award.
When installed in an HGV, it takes the form of a lever fitted in the crew area. If the driver loses consciousness, the crew can use the lever to engage the brakes in a gradual, controlled manner, bringing the vehicle to a halt while avoiding the type of harsh braking that can lead to jack-knifing.
While an effective emergency measure, in ideal circumstances it should never be used; a scenario drivers can help to make less likely by ensuring that they get the recommended amount of sleep.
4. Stopping distances
This scenario is more likely in wet or wintry weather conditions, in which movement of traffic as a whole is more likely to be severely reduced.
If the vehicle ahead is moving slowly enough that its rear starts to disappear into the blind spot immediately below the cabin, it can be easy for an inattentive HGV driver to accidentally rear-end it.
Even at normal motorway speeds, it can still be easy for new HGV drivers to underestimate their vehicle’s braking distance – and if they’re too close to the vehicle in front, this can lead to expensive insurance claims.
That said, even attentive, experienced HGV drivers can sometimes find involved in such accidents.
The increased braking distances of HGVs can sometimes make them prime targets for Crash-for-Cash schemes, in which criminals deliberately engineer crashes to claim large insurance payouts.
However, there is a defence – vehicle cameras used with our VT RECORD are capable of relaying the events leading up to the collision in crystal-clear detail, proving liability while absolving law-abiding HGV drivers of any blame.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which our products can help drivers and fleet managers while out on the roads – just a quick browse through our range of vehicle safety products will reveal many more benefits!
You can explore them at your leisure right here on our site, or alternatively give our sales team a call on 01254 679 717, and we’ll be happy to help with any questions or advice you may need.