Manoeuvring a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) is very different to commuting in your family car. I don’t doubt that you’re a competent driver, but if you’ve recently joined the haulage industry or are considering becoming a forwarder, you might benefit from these HGV driving tips. Safety is key when you get behind the wheel and there’s always room for improvement.
Getting into the Truck
To avoid falling while exiting your vehicle, remember to maintain a 3-point contact. You should have either two feet and one hand or both hands and one foot touching the vehicle.
Warning lights come on when there’s a problem – and you shouldn’t ignore them! Check your manual to see what issue the light is pointing towards and get it fixed ASAP.
Starting the Truck
Your vehicle manual will tell you how your vehicle starts. Before switching on the ignition, though, you might appreciate a little insight from these HGV driving tips.
New vehicles are often fitted with immobilisers or steering-column locks. But don’t worry: putting the key in the ignition or simply unlocking your HGV should switch them off.
Extra Security Measures
Extra security measures, such as parking brake or steering wheel locks, need to be removed manually before starting your lorry.
If you’ve got a diesel engine, you’ll need to wait for the glow plugs to be fully heated before starting the engine.
Using Mirrors to Move Off Safely
Being aware of your surroundings is key. Before setting off, check your mirrors, signal that you’re pulling out, check that the road is still clear and then manoeuvre your vehicle.
Use of Gears and Brakes
One of the most important HGV driving tips I can give is to maintain control over your vehicle at all times. Before departing, you should know which position the clutch needs to be in to allow the vehicle to move.
Loading and Unloading
When loading or unloading, secure your vehicle by applying the brakes and switching off your engine. Before pulling away, check that the dock plate has been removed and that the area is cleared of people and equipment.
Now this is where driving gets tricky. Different vehicles have different braking systems, so follow these HGV driving tips to know what to do.
When using hydraulic brakes, you’ll want to pump them to avoid locking the wheels.
Anti-lock Braking Systems
Speaking of locking wheels, this system prevents such an event and stops you from skidding. Simply hold the pedal down firmly until you come to a stop.
Endurance Braking Systems
Particularly effective on hills, this system minimises the wear of your brakes by controlling your HGV’s speed without using the wheel-mounted brakes.
When parking, make sure you’re in a safe and legal space that doesn’t obstruct any passages. If it’s dark, switch on your parking lights. If you’re on a hill, apply the brake, leave the vehicle in gear and turn the steering wheel towards the kerb.
Steering and Manoeuvring
Remember, stability is key. Keep both hands on the wheel unless changing a control and avoid turning too sharply.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange offers a valuable service providing information on HGV driving tips and other news from the industry. Matching delivery work with available vehicles, over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.