The Duty Of HGV Drivers – Meeting Safety And Compliance Standards
Written by Jessie Lee & Reviewed by Peter Howitt
Driving an HGV truck is a demanding yet crucial task in the transportation industry. HGV drivers are responsible for ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of goods while complying with many regulations, directives, and guidelines.
Meeting safety and compliance standards is not only a legal obligation but also a moral and professional responsibility. It requires a high level of knowledge, skill, and discipline to operate an HGV truck safely and in compliance with the law.
As an HGV driver in the UK, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of yourself, other road users, and the general public. This responsibility is governed by a number of laws and regulations, which aim to promote safe driving practices and minimise the risk of accidents.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key responsibilities of HGV drivers in the UK, and how to meet safety and compliance as professional HGV drivers.
One of the most important responsibilities of HGV drivers is to adhere to the EU Driver Hours Rules Regulation (EC561/2006) and Working Time Rules (Directive 2021/15/EC) which sets out, for example, the maximum number of hours a driver can drive in a week, the number of hours a driver can work in a week and the minimum amount of daily and weekly rest they must take.
Under EU Driver Hours Rules Regulation (EC561/2006) the maximum daily driving time is 9 hours a day – this can be extended to 10 hours twice in a fixed week. A driver can only undertake a total of 56 hours of driving in a week and 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks.
For break periods – HGV drivers must take a minimum break of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours of driving and must take at least 11 hours of rest each day. This rest may be reduced to a minimum of 9 hours, three times between weekly rests.
You can visit the gov.uk website here for further details about HGV driver hours and rest periods.
#2 Keeping A Valid HGV Licence
HGV drivers must have a valid HGV Licence to legally drive a heavy goods vehicle in the UK. This licence is acquired by undertaking training and by passing a series of theory and practical driving tests.
The licence must be renewed regularly, and medical checks must be conducted to ensure that the driver is physically fit to continue driving.
What Do HGV Drivers Need To Do To Keep A Valid HGV licence?
A valid HGV licence is a requirement for all commercial drivers operating heavy goods vehicles in the UK.
The HGV licence is not only a legal requirement, but also a demonstration of the driver’s competence and ability to operate heavy vehicles safely.
Here we’ll discuss what HGV drivers need to do to keep their licences valid and up to date.
– Complete Regular Medical Examinations
One of the key requirements for keeping a valid HGV licence is to complete regular HGV medical examinations.
This is to ensure that the driver is physically fit to operate a heavy goods vehicle, and that any medical conditions that may affect their driving are identified and addressed.
The frequency of medical examinations depends on the driver’s age and the type of HGV licence they hold. If the driver is under the age of 45, the initial HGV medical will last until their 45th birthday.
After the driver’s 45th birthday, an HGV medical is required every five years until the age of 65, when a medical will be required every year.
It is a legal requirement to inform the DVLA of any changes in health that may affect the driver’s ability to drive safely on the road.
– Keep Up-to-Date With Driver CPC Periodic Training
The Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) is a requirement for most HGV drivers who drive commercial vehicles.
After passing the initial Driver CPC (Modules 2 and 4) to gain the Driver Qualification Card the driver will be required to undertake the Periodic training to continue driving commercially.
This is done by completing 35 hours of periodic training every five years to keep up to date with changes in legislation and best practices, and to maintain the driver’s professional development.
Failure to complete the Driver CPC will result in the driver, in most cases, being unable to drive, vehicles over 3.5 tonne, commercially.
– Maintain A Good Driving Record
Having a good driving record is important for keeping a valid HGV licence.
This includes avoiding convictions for motoring offenses, such as speeding, drink driving, and using a mobile phone while driving.
If a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points on their licence within a three-year period, they can face disqualification from driving.
– Report Any Changes To Health Or Circumstances
HGV drivers need to report any changes to their health or circumstances that may affect their ability to drive the HGV.
This includes changes to vision, hearing, or medical conditions that may affect their driving. Failure to report these changes can result in the driver’s HGV licence being suspended or revoked.
– Keep Vehicles Well Maintained
HGV drivers play a key role in ensuring that their vehicles are kept in good condition and are roadworthy. This includes regular inspections and maintenance, and making any necessary repairs.
Drivers should carry out daily walkaround checks to ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive, and to identify any issues that need to be addressed.
#3 Maintaining Vehicle Safety
HGV drivers are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are in good working order and meet the necessary safety standards whilst operating on the road.
This includes regular checks of brakes, lights, tyres, and other essential components, as well as ensuring that the vehicle is loaded safely and securely. Note that drivers can be fined or even banned from driving if their vehicle is found to be unsafe.
So, let’s get into some of the key steps that HGV drivers can take to keep their trucks roadworthy and maintain vehicle safety.
– Regular Maintenance And Inspections
Regular maintenance and inspections are essential for keeping an HGV truck roadworthy. These checks should be carried out by a qualified mechanic, and any necessary repairs should be made promptly to ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive.
This includes regular checks of the engine, brakes, suspension, steering, and tyres, as well as the lighting and signalling systems.
– Daily WalkAround Checks
HGV drivers should carry out daily walkaround checks of their vehicles.
This includes checking the brakes, tyres, and lights, as well as looking for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Drivers should also check the fuel, oil, and coolant levels, and make any necessary top-ups.
– Safe Loading And Securing Of Cargo
Properly loading and securing cargo is essential for maintaining vehicle safety. HGV drivers should ensure that the load is balanced, and that it is secured using appropriate restraints and tie-downs.
The load should also be distributed evenly over the load bed and the axles and should not exceed the vehicle’s maximum weight limits.
– Proper Use Of Safety Equipment
HGV drivers should also ensure that they are using the appropriate safety equipment to keep themselves and others affected by their actions safe.
Drivers can ensure their safety by wearing suitable PPE , always using the vehicle’s seatbelts, using the correct handholds and steps for accessing and exiting the vehicle, and deploying any guards or rails when using tail lifts.
– Adhere To Speed Limits And Drive Safely
HGV drivers must also adhere to speed limits, and drive safely and responsibly. This includes driving at a safe speed, avoiding sudden braking or accelerating, and maintaining a safe following distance.
HGV drivers should also be aware of other road users, and take appropriate action to avoid collisions.
#4 Following Speed Limits And Drive Accordingly
HGV vehicles have different speed limits to other vehicles on the road, depending on the type of road and the size of the vehicle.
On motorways, the speed limit for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes is 60 mph, while on single-carriageway roads it is 50 mph.
It’s important for HGV drivers to adhere to these limits, as driving at excessive speeds can put themselves and other road users at risk as well as attract penalty points and fines.
#5 Complying with Roadworthy and Emissions Standards
HGV vehicles must meet certain roadworthy and emissions standards, and must be tested regularly to ensure that they comply with these standards.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is responsible for enforcing these standards, and failure to comply can result in fines and penalties for the driver and the vehicle operator.
Below we’ll explore some of the steps that HGV drivers can take to comply with these standards.
– Daily Walkaround Checks
A daily Walkaround checks is one of the most important ways an HGV driver can help to ensure the vehicle complies with roadworthiness and emissions standards.
– Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance helps to ensure that the vehicle is in good working order and is operating at maximum efficiency.
– Use The Correct Fuel And Lubricants
Using the correct fuel and lubricants is also important for complying with emissions standards.
HGV drivers should ensure that they are using the correct fuel and lubricants for their vehicles, as specified by the manufacturer. This helps to reduce emissions and ensures that the engine is operating at its best.
– Ensure Adequate Tyre Pressure
Ensuring adequate tyre pressure is also crucial for complying with roadworthiness standards.
HGV drivers should regularly visually check their tyres for inflation, tread, and damage and report any defects which would make the tyres illegal.
This also helps to improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, and improve road handling.
– Keep The Vehicle Clean
Keeping the vehicle clean is also important for complying with emissions standards. HGV drivers should ensure that their vehicle is free of dirt, debris, and other contaminants that can reduce fuel efficiency and increase emissions.
This includes regularly washing the vehicle, checking for leaks, and keeping the fuel tank clean.
– Use Eco-friendly Driving Techniques
Using eco-friendly driving techniques is also important for reducing emissions and complying with environmental standards. HGV drivers should adopt a smooth, steady driving style, and avoid sudden braking and acceleration.
They should also use the correct speed for the road conditions and avoid unnecessary idling and over-revving the engine.
– Use Technology To Monitor Emissions
Lastly, HGV drivers can use technology to monitor emissions and ensure that they are complying with environmental standards.
This includes using onboard diagnostics systems to monitor emissions and fuel efficiency and reporting any adverse warnings.
#6 Safe Driving Practices
HGV drivers must always follow safe driving practices. This includes wearing seat belts, not using a mobile phone whilst driving, being fit to drive and giving other road users enough space and time.
Below are some great tips on safe driving practices:
– Stick To The Speed Limits
One of the most important aspects of safe driving is adhering to speed limits.
HGV vehicles are larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road, which means that they require more time and space to come to a stop.
It’s essential that HGV drivers observe speed limits, never tailgate another vehicle, and slow down in adverse weather conditions or in areas with heavy traffic.
– Maintain A Safe Following Distance
Maintaining a safe following distance is also essential for safe driving.
HGV drivers should keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, especially when driving at higher speeds or in poor visibility conditions.
This allows the driver more time to react to changes in road conditions and reduces the risk of a collision.
– Use Proper Lighting And Signalling
Proper lighting and signaling are also essential for safe driving.
HGV drivers should ensure that their headlights and taillights are working correctly and that they are using their turn signals appropriately, in good time and to warn other road users of their intentions.
It is important to ensure that the vehicle’s lights, reflectors, and reflective tape are clean and visible.
– Stay Alert And Avoid Fatigue
Staying alert and avoiding fatigue are also crucial for safe driving. HGV drivers should take regular breaks, and avoid driving for long periods without rest.
Drivers should adhere to the break and rest requirements detailed within the EU Regulations and Working Time Directive.
If a driver begins to feel drowsy, they should pull over to a safe place and take a break.
– Plan Your Journey
Planning your journey is also important for safe driving. HGV drivers should take into account drivers’ hours rules, road conditions, weather conditions, and traffic patterns, and plan their routes accordingly.
This helps to reduce the risk of unexpected detours and helps to ensure that the driver arrives at their destination safely.
– Keep the Vehicle In Good Condition
Keeping the vehicle in good condition is also essential for safe driving.
HGV drivers should help ensure that the vehicle is regularly monitored, defects reported, and that any necessary repairs are made promptly.
This helps to reduce the risk of breakdowns and ensures that the vehicle is roadworthy.
As an HGV driver, it’s important to be aware of the responsibilities that come with your profession. By following the laws and regulations, and practicing safe driving habits, you can help to keep yourself, other road users, and the general public safe.
We hope you have enjoyed reading the article. If you are looking for a new role in HGV driving, please call us on our central recruitment line: 01582 393535.
Alternatively, you can also contact us via our online contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.