Every year around 2000 people die on Britain’s roads. And a large number of those involve a heavy goods vehicle of some kind. Not all of them are caused by HGV’s, but the fact is that HGV’s have got a pretty bad rep over the years. This is particularly true for the rural roads, where all motorists have a tendency to speed and drive a little more recklessly. But for us, even one fatality involving an HGV is too much for comfort, so this year we want to help you become a better, safer driver. To do that, we’re going to reveal the 5 top causes of HGV-related accidents, and what you can do to avoid them.
Loss of Control
The single biggest cause of road accidents involving HGV’s is the driver losing control of the vehicle. When you have a vehicle as big and heavy as an HGV, losing control can spell trouble. Drivers can lose control of their vehicles (HGV or otherwise) for a number of reasons. The top one is weather conditions (fog, ice, driving rain and so on), followed by the actions of other drivers (pulling in too close in front, braking suddenly) and even driver distraction. To avoid accidents caused by loss of control, the best thing you can do is make sure your HGV is well-serviced and maintained, with all the elements working properly. Because if you do lose control, the little things like responsive brakes, wipers and lights could save lives – including your own.
Failure to Look
An HGV is a big, bulky vehicle. That means it’s often difficult to know what’s going on at all points in the vehicle, especially when your blind spots are about 5 times bigger than the average car. But failing to consider surroundings and use mirrors properly is one of the big causes of accidents in the HGV world – but it doesn’t need to be. Making a point to observe your surroundings – especially in bad weather – is very important. You can also prioritise keeping your mirrors clean to improve visibility.
Reckless driving kills, no matter what you’re driving. The UK has some of Europe’s busiest roads, and some of the least polite and considerate motorists too. So when another driver cuts you up or acts aggressively, your impulse might be to respond with more aggression – or passive-aggression. But the safest option is to remain calm and focus on driving safely. Idiots should always be treated with a bit of zen! Oh, and a bonus point – aggression and recklessness are always going to be made worse if you have drugs or alcohol in your system (even if it’s from the night before). So don’t drive with any illicit substances in your system.
Have you ever been tempted to check your mobile phone during that endless stream of slow-moving traffic? Or fiddle with the radio while you’re on the motorway on a long drive? It’s something we all experience, and yet every year lives are lost in these few moments of carelessness. And it’s not just because of little careless actions. It’s also because people persist in driving when they are tired. Accidents on the road are more common after 11pm – when the eyelids start to droop and the exhaustion sets in. To avoid this, keep your phone out of easy reach in the cab, and make sure you’re taking regular brakes. That means that if your eyes are starting to droop, pull over and take a break. Grab a coffee, take a nap, or just walk around in the cold night air. Wake yourself up, or rest before you get behind the wheel.
And finally, speeding. Did you know that four people were caught speeding every minute last year? It’s scarily common. But as a professional driver, you need to take the speed limit seriously, and use it as a maximum speed, not a minimum or a challenge. This is particularly important on rural roads, where you might be tempted to get ahead of schedule by hitting the accelerator. But speeding often causes you to lose control and means you don’t have enough time to stop if a hazard crops up. So to avoid becoming another statistic, make sure you’re below the speed limit.