For a newly qualified driver, getting that first job is both an exciting and daunting experience. There is a lot to think about and new drivers can often forget about their training and rush into the job eager to make a good first impression. But that’s when mistakes happen.
To help keep you safe, we’ve created a list of top tips to remember when driving a lorry. These tips are useful not only for newly qualified drivers but also for drivers who have never driven a lorry before and even those with many years of experience.
1. Plan your day
The ability to plan is one of the most important skills of a lorry driver. You should plan your entire route, taking careful note of any weight restrictions and low bridges. You should also plan your rest and refuelling stops. Planning this way will help keep you safe and reduce the risk of your journey going wrong. There are plenty of apps you can use to help with this task.
2. Carry out your vehicle checks each morning
Before setting off, it’s a legal requirement to check the integrity of your vehicle. Do not skip this task, even if it’s cold outside. Most larger fleets use apps to ensure these checks are carried out. But even if they don’t, it is important that these checks are carried out each day and the results recorded.
3. Check the height of your vehicle
Nothing is going to ruin your day more than a bridge collision. So get into the habit of checking your vehicle height before you set off. And don’t rely on the information in the cab, particularly if you are driving an articulated lorry. Ensure the trailer is connected properly and that the suspension is set to normal ride height. Then use a measuring stick to get an accurate height measurement.
4. Watch your tail swing
When turning right, always ensure there is enough room for your tail to swing out. Check your mirrors and pay particular attention to any parked cars, pedestrians and cyclists who are at risk of getting tagged.
5. Prioritize break time
Don’t push yourself to the limit, especially when you’re new to the job. Driving can be mentally taxing at the best of times, but especially so when you are new. So if you start to feel tired, pull over and have a rest. You should also keep a bottle of water in your cab to keep your mind alert and your body hydrated.
The above tips will help ensure that your journey goes to plan and you arrive at your destination safe and sound. Most of them are common sense, but it easy to get distracted when you’re out on the road. So drill them into your mind and keep them with you throughout your career. They will serve you well.