How To Plan For The Dangers Of Driving HGVs In High Winds
HGV drivers are often expected to drive in all weather conditions, day or night, which means that many are well-practised at dealing with inclement weather conditions including rain, fog or even snow. However, high winds can also bring their own dangers for HGV drivers, and they’re even risks that can sometimes be underestimated by fleet operators. Since safety is our business here at Vision Techniques, we thought it worth taking a look in a little bit more detail about what’s involved, and which of our vehicle safety products can help.
What Does The Law Say About Driving In High Winds?
At the moment, there aren’t any explicit laws governing when HGV drivers can operate in extreme winds – this is left to the discretion of fleet operators themselves, falling under their legal obligation to protect the wellbeing of their employees. This means that driving lorries in high winds is known as a point of contention for some HGV drivers, who are often subject to pressure from their employers.
On the whole, they say, larger or national companies are generally responsible on making these sorts of judgements. Smaller companies, on the other hand, are often more willing to take the risks for the sake of making their deliveries on time. This is part of why there have been calls for the government to ban driving Heavy Goods Vehicles and other high profile vehicles in extremely windy conditions. Their high profile means that they are more vulnerable to potentially being blown over, causing damage to cargo but – more importantly – posing a serious risk to life. Even if winds aren’t quite high enough for that to happen, there is still the fact that HGVs consume far more fuel under these conditions, which is often a vital consideration for fleet operators.
What Fleet Operators Can Do To Mitigate These Dangers
There are a number of measures that fleet operators can take to safeguard the wellbeing of their drivers, cargo, and other motorists. These include:
- Using fleet tracking software to plan the journey of their drivers, avoiding roads that are high up or exposed (such as bridges or flyovers)
- Similarly, make sure that this planned journey accounts for lower speed limits, lane closures or potential diversions
- Make sure that drivers are aware and alert for all the ways that such conditions could affect other road users – particularly smaller, lighter or more vulnerable ones such as cyclists or motorcyclists
- Empty, curtain-sided vehicles should have their curtains tied at one end to reduce the effect of side winds.
- Consider how the winds might have an effect on the fuel consumption of the HGVs in question
Finally, it’s also wise to look at safety devices such as VT StopSafe or VT BrakeSafe, both of which can be instrumental for mitigating dangers posed by extreme weather. If drivers lose control of their vehicle, for example, or become incapacitated at the wheel, our very own vehicle safety product StopSafe can help the crew to being the vehicle to a safe halt without danger of the lorry jack-knifing on a windy highway. Meanwhile, BrakeSafe provides an extra layer of security for HGVs parked on hills or inclines.
Browse our full range of vehicle safety products here, or if you’d like to make an enquiry, you can always give us a call on 08452 873 155.