Every year, almost a quarter of injuries/accidents, caused by heavy goods vehicles, result in fatalities or serious injury – and given the nature of HGV crashes, it’s no wonder the government and the FTA (Freight Transport Association) have joined forces to offer efficient safety training for drivers who travel on smart motorways.
By ‘smart motorways’ we mean certain motorways that are designed to reduce congestion, by adding significant capacity to much-needed areas and improve the reliability of journey time. The 8 hour, single-day course covers both the history and future of smart motorways, including signals, driver behaviour, motorway laws and traffic officer roles etc. and as hauliers are the most frequent users of these types of motorways, and also one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road, this course would be ideal for any individual that works in the haulage industry.
Lorries and any other HGV’s are incredibly large and heavy, also making them incredibly dangerous – so it’s important you take precautions when driving them/close by one, for instance:
Driving an HGV:
- Ensure you are healthy, both physically and mentally, enough to drive a large vehicle. Going onto the road in any vehicle unconfidently can potentially cause a major accident, so think about yourself in order to keep others safe.
- Ensure you understand the laws of the road and haulage industry i.e. the highway code etc.
- Inspect your vehicle before you leave. Make sure you have the right documents (and even your driving license), wheels are healthy, and that you have a spare one in case of an emergency, your vehicle isn’t breaking any weight restriction rules.
- When on the road, you don’t attempt to overtake another vehicle, whether that is a haulage, commercial or basic vehicle, on the motorway. It can be highly dangerous and should only be done if completely necessary and observations are safe and clear in other directions.
- When on the road, you don’t attempt to tailgate other vehicles, especially smaller ones. It can be rather intimidating for smaller vehicles to be closely followed by a much larger vehicle, decreasing their concentration and observation and thus increasing the chance of a severe accident caused.
- Observe at all times! You need to constantly remind yourself that you are in a much bigger vehicle than others on these motorways, so you are therefore a lot more lethal. Observing everywhere ensures you are safe and decreases the chance of a potentially fatal accident.
Driving close to them:
- Do not drive closely behind a large vehicle – if they have to break in case of an emergency it can cause very serious consequences for you and the passengers in your car, and they may not be able to see you.
- If you plan on overtaking an HGV on a motorway, don’t mess about; stick to the speed limit but ensure the process is done quickly and safely, and avoid driving next to them for the longest time, as this can be quite intimidating.
- Similar to the first rule, leave a time gap of a couple of seconds when driving behind an HGV, especially in particular weather conditions. This ensures you enough time to prepare in case of an emergency stop or action from the driver that causes you to react.
- Be patient, it is a large, very heavy vehicle containing important goods… it’s their job, so think about each other’s safety, and don’t attempt to do anything that could possibly worry or confuse the driver.
Back to the topic of the available course, Malcolm Bingham, the Head of the Road Network Management Policy at the FTA believes that this course is ‘the right way forward’, that ‘providing drivers with true guidance on how to use the network and not adding confusion about which parts of the road they can use and when’. Any company or worker that wants their staff to sharpen up their skills on motorways or HGV’s, in general, should take this course into consideration, as the safety on the road is a huge problem that is overlooked.