With winter almost behind us, commercial drivers will be thrilled at the prospect of dry roads. However, whilst driving in spring may be less dangerous than being on the road through winter ice and snow, there are still safety measures that need to be taken. Spring brings with itself a new set of driving hazards that HGV drivers need to be aware of to practice safe truck driving – from potholes to sun glare.
To get you and your cargo safely to your destination, we’ve put together the spring driving safety tips you’ll need to navigate the roads in springtime.
As a commercial driver, you’ll always conduct a daily walk around check in any case, but the arrival of spring is a good excuse to carry out a special check. You’ll be looking for largely the same things – tyres, wipers, lights and so on. If you’re in control of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, it’s a good idea to book a service and get an extra pair of eyes on it all, including a tune-up as well, to check the engine and transmission are still functioning properly.
In the UK, rainy days are a given, and the hazards of rain should never be ignored during spring. Spring showers can come on suddenly and be very heavy, so doing all you can to maintain good visibility is essential. To minimise the risk of an accident and to help others see you too, always ensure that your windscreen wipers and headlights are functioning before setting off.
With rain also comes the hazard of aquaplaning, where water causes your vehicle’s tyres to lose contact with the road surface – making it harder to brake. Poorly drained roads and sudden showers increase the risk of aquaplaning, and it can be very dangerous for large vehicles. If you brake too hard in these conditions, you could lose complete control and your truck could jack-knife. To avoid this, ensure that you remain patient, always maintain a safe speed and distance from vehicles ahead on the road, and brake gradually when conditions are poor.
Whilst the snow and ice may be gone, winter still leaves its mark on the roads long after the weather thaws, and this comes in the form of potholes. The salt and extreme temperature variations that we see in winter can be really damaging to road surfaces. Potholes can not only cause tyre failure or bent rims, but in some cases, can also contribute to traffic accidents.
There is no quick fix to address potholes. However, keeping a close eye on the road during spring, and leaving plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front are the best safety measures to take. If you spot a pothole, avoid swerving, and instead gently press your brakes as soon as you’re able to do so in a controlled manner. This will lessen the impact the pothole has on your vehicle.
Deer and other animals are more likely to be on the side of the road looking for food during spring. If you see an animal on the road, brake slowly rather than swerving rapidly. Swerving can damage your vehicle or cargo but also puts other road users in danger as there may not be enough clearance between your truck and other vehicles in neighbouring lanes.
Better weather can often mean more roadworks! To steer clear of delays, ensure you pre-plan your routes to avoid these areas, or if it cannot be avoided, call the receiver to notify them that the shipment may be delayed. Either action will make you feel more at ease so you can remain focused on driving. And if you do find yourself stuck in traffic due to road construction – maintain one lane where possible, avoid distractions and follow the correct speed for the conditions.
Whilst driving on a beautiful spring day sounds like a dream – sun glare can quickly change this. Research by the Department for Transport (DfT) highlighted that dazzling sunlight contributed to 2,324 accidents in 2017 (25 of these were fatal). Rule 237 of the Highway Code recommends drivers to slow down/pull over if they feel the sunlight is almost blinding. Whilst it’s not a legal obligation to wear sunglasses when driving in bright conditions, you could be breaking the law if you fail to slow down or stop if the sun temporarily blinds you. In mind of this, HGV drivers should take the appropriate measures against sun glare – whether it’s wearing sunglasses, using the truck’s sun visor or slowing down/pulling over. These measures will help keep not only yourself but other road users safe too.
There’s nothing better than a job on the road which allows you to take advantage of the lovely spring weather. However, as demonstrated above, it’s important to remember that a beautiful spring drive can still have its dangers. Stay aware, make smart decisions and drive your HGV with extreme caution at all times during spring.
If you’d like to talk to us about staying safe on the road, call us on 0808 178 9977 or chat to one of our agents right now.