Driving for work? Stay safe around HGVs

By 15th October 2019Tips and Blogs

Over the last 5 years UK roads have seen a 9% increase in the number of miles driven by HGVs¹, meaning those driving for work are likely to come across them in greater numbers. Below are some top tips on the best way to safely share the road with HGVs.

  • On the motorway many lorries will have foreign licence plates. Bear in mind that the driver will be sitting on the left-hand side rather than the right, so you may be difficult to see and the driver may be acclimatising their lane position in the UK. Take extra care when passing and allow more space if you can.
  • We’ve all heard the saying “if you can see their mirrors, then they can see you.” A HGV can have up to 5 mirrors, but the driver is limited to only looking at one at a time so may not see you. Hold back to give plenty of space and eventually you’ll come into view.
  • Identify when there is a likelihood of the HGV changing lanes Be accommodating by hanging back and allowing them to pull into the lane they are looking to move into. Questions like these are worth asking yourself:
    • Is there a slip road coming up which will be joining traffic and may force a lane change?
    • If a HGV is in lane two, are they likely to change back into lane one?
    • Are there weight restrictions on the lane ahead which force a lane change?
  • At one point in time, we’ve all experienced heavy spray from an HGV in front of us. You can control this by extending the distance between yourself and the lorry. The Highway Code suggests at least four seconds in the rain but if needed, make it more. Not only will it prevent your wipers working overtime, it will also improve your vision beyond the HGV.
  • An articulated lorry will track sideways in a right-hand bend on the motorway and on a roundabout, so avoid being beside it. A good rule of thumb is to be safely in front of or safely behind, but never beside an HGV when entering a roundabout.
  • If you see a queue of traffic in front of you and have an HGV behind you, introduce your brake lights early to pre-warn the driver behind and slow down gradually. This will let the HGV driver extend their braking distance and stop in plenty of time. On a motorway or dual carriageway, hazard lights can be used to show drivers behind you of any issues further in front (Highway Code rule 116).
  • Despite being legally limited to 60mph, an HGV can only physically go a maximum of 56mph on the motorway. So, if you do see a HGV on the right hand lane then give them a helping hand by slowing down and letting them into the left lane. Allow them to pass more easily if you can.

IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman said: “As any HGV driver will tell you, they sometimes need a bit of extra space to move down the road. Visibility can be restricted, and no amount of mirrors will allow all of the blind spots to be monitored all of the time. By applying some simple rules and sharing the road space, we can make life easier for all of us. On a roundabout they will need more than one lane so let them have it; a few seconds delay will be worth it if you prevent a crash. Walk that mile in the other man’s shoes and understand what we may need.”

IAM Roadsmart’s fleet risk management and driver training solutions can help business drivers develop enhanced driving behaviours, helping to ensure their on-road safety alongside any vehicle type.

¹ Source: Department for Transport, (2018), Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2018.

Peter Williams

Author Peter Williams

Marketing Executive at IAM RoadSmart

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