As a professional driver, your health and well-being is key to being safe while at work
Here are some tips to keep your well-being in check.
1. Initial Vehicle Checks
Doing a daily walk round check is not just to ensure the vehicle is safe for the road; making sure everything works properly also ensures your own safety.
- The cab: access, seat position and seat belts, mirrors and all vehicle controls
- Wheels & tyres: check for any damage, secure wheel nuts
- Also check visibility, load security, brakes, fuel tank, fluids and couplings
Fatigue is a factor in 20% of all road collisions – get as much rest as possible before setting off on any journey.
- Lack of sleep will affect your reaction times and how you respond to situations on the road
- Don’t drive tired. Take proper rest and breaks, and if you feel tired on the road, pull over
- Adhere to Drivers’ Hours Rules – they are there to keep you safe
High winds, fog, rain, freezing temperature and bright sunshine can all affect driving conditions, your safety, and that of other road users.
- Adjust your driving to meet the conditions on the road – drive at a safe speed
- Before you set off, check you have everything you need to stay safe on your journey
- Do you know what the weather is likely to be like where you are travelling?
4. Loading Safety
Manual handling, loading activities and loading bays are all naturally hazardous. Always focus on safety first and remember.
- Observe all rules and signage, and be mindful of other vehicles and personnel
- Inspect all equipment regularly for wear and tear or damage, both on and off the vehicle. If in doubt, don’t use it, and report it
- Check your load is properly positioned, secure, not overweight, and does not impair your vision
Travelling too fast for the conditions is recorded by police as a contributory factor in more than 28% of fatal crashes in the UK.
- Are you aware of speed limits and stopping distances for the vehicle and the road?
- Road safety charity Brake estimates that every 1mph reduction in average speeds lowers crash rates by 5%
- Adopt ‘defensive driving’ techniques to reduce speed and fuel consumption – and lower stress
6. Distraction and Stress
A Brake and Direct Line survey of UK drivers found that 71% had lost concentration at the wheel within a 12 month period due to stress or annoyance.
- Some distractions are obvious, such as changing the radio
- Emotional distractions – running late, having an argument, getting good or bad news – can all affect your reactions
- It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving. Put it in the glove box so it can’t distract you
7. Accidents & Breakdowns
Accidents and breakdowns can have serious consequences for your safety – whatever happens never put yourself in danger to move the vehicle.
- Where possible use the hard shoulder, emergency refuge area or a lay-by, and switch on hazard lights
- Exit from the passenger side, away from moving traffic
- If your vehicle is blocking a road or you cannot exit safely, call the police immediately with your location
Vital to your safety and wellbeing – and drivers are a recognised ‘at risk’ group.
- Have a balanced diet. Limit fast food. Snack on fruit, and stay hydrated with plenty of water
- Fitness – proven to be a mood lifter
- Take a walk whenever you can & ensure you are active outside of work
- Regular Eye Tests – road crashes involving a driver with poor vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties. Look after your sight.
9. Personal Safety
HGV drivers can be subject to risks of theft or physical attack, particularly if you are a trunking driver or you have a valuable load. To help keep you safe:
- Always remove keys and lock doors when leaving the vehicle
- Plan your route ahead and keep all documentation about your load out of sight
- Avoid dark, unlit spots when parking, particularly overnight. Use a secure location wherever possible
These tips are a guide only and should not be taken as an authoritative document.
10. Mental Health advice
Did you know that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year in the UK? What’s more, professional drivers have been identified as a high-risk group when it comes to mental health. We talk readily about our physical health, so why should mental health be any different? Take a look at these tips on ‘Professional Drivers Mental Health‘ that may help to start a conversation.