Driving an HGV requires extensive training and practical experience and isn’t nearly as easy as driving a car. Moreover, additional risks, hazards, and responsibilities are involved in driving HGVs – even during the best conditions.
However, winter weather poses several additional challenges: snow, ice, rain, high winds, and even fog can make it much more difficult to drive safely.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of tips to help HGV drivers stay safe during winter driving conditions.
1. Check the Weather Forecast Before Setting Off on a Journey
Of course, the weather is even more changeable during winter than at other times of the year. Temperatures can rapidly plummet – increasing the chance of snow and (black) ice – so it’s essential to check the weather forecast before leaving on a journey.
A weather app is an excellent addition to your smartphone. Not only will you give up-to-the-minute conditions at a few taps of the screen, but you can also check any alerts issued for your area. You can also check mid-journey on scheduled breaks if you drive long distances.
From high winds that affect high-sided vehicles like HGVs to extremely heavy and prolonged rain that can affect visibility on long motorway journeys, the weather can change in an instant. So always be aware of current conditions and alerts.
2. Carry Out Regular Vehicle Checks
HGV maintenance is important at any time of year, but it’s essential in winter. From regular checks of your fluid levels to tyre tread assessments and checking your wipers, there are several key steps you should take before taking on a journey to ensure your vehicle is fully prepared for winter driving conditions.
By spotting something amiss, you can ensure that any potential issues can be avoided or rectified before they develop into a potentially more serious problem. For example, by topping up your antifreeze windscreen washer fluid, you can prevent dangerous visibility issues caused by freezing rain or snow.
3. Pack a Winter Emergency Kit in Your HGV
A winter emergency kit is an invaluable addition to your vehicle as it will help you stay safe if you get stuck in snowy conditions or encounter other winter driving problems. Breakdowns can happen when you least expect them, and you could be hours without roadside assistance or shelter during severe weather.
An emergency kit that includes warm blankets and coats, hats, gloves, water, and non-perishable food supplies could quite literally be a lifesaver if you find yourself stranded in freezing conditions. Of course, a first aid kit is also a must in any season.
Lastly, you might want to pack some equipment in your emergency kit, such as a torch, extra de-icer, and a snow shovel to clear ice and snow from the road if required.
4. Give Yourself Extra Space to the Vehicle in Front of You
Of the biggest changes to the road conditions in winter is that they are, more often than not, wet and slippery. As an HGV driver, this means significantly increased stopping and braking distances.
To give yourself more time and space to react to an unexpected incident unfolding ahead of you, leave at least a four-second gap between your vehicle and the one in front. That’s double the gap that you would typically leave in summer conditions.
Learn to Drive HGVs with TL Training
At TL Training, we are the North West’s leading HGV training provider, offering courses that prepare you for all licence types. From Class 1 (Category C+E) and Class 2 (Category C) licence training to our new Car to Class 1 Course that takes advantage of the government’s streamlining of licence categories, we can help you achieve your career goals.
To learn more about how we can help you gain your HGV licence, call us on 0151 343 0588 or browse our website to find out more about our HGV training courses.