Congrats for passing your HGV theory training and manual tests! As a qualified HGV driver, you are ready to go out there and build a successful professional life. You are bound to get better with time, especially considering the fact that there is a learning curve; even as a beginner, there is a lot you can learn from all the practical knowledge that has been learnt by those who came earlier. This is the inspiration for this article on five important tips for new heavy goods vehicle drivers.
1. Prepare Yourself
To succeed as a driver in this field, you need to prepare properly and thoroughly. You can run into a lot of problems, encounter a variety of last minute changes and find that a lot of things can actually go sideways in reality, in a job that most people believe is as simple as getting into their vehicle and driving from one point to the next. However, your chances of being caught off guard are likely to decrease substantially if you take the time to prepare properly for each trip, from refuelling and stopping for breaks to any other stops to be made during the trip and considering viable alternative routes in case of running into bad traffic or an accident. HGV drivers need to see the trip as much more than their destination and point of origin.
2. Proper Hydration Is Essential
Make sure to consider this important piece of advice, no matter how misplaced it might seem. You need to learn how to take good care of yourself if you want to be a great HGV driver. Here we are talking about looking after your health — and not from a self-defence point of view. Dehydration can lead to a variety of serious health issues including loss of awareness, dizziness and fatigue; proper hydration is essential to survival. As such, it is recommended that you get yourself a sufficiently large water bottle that is refillable; keep it full of water and within reach in your vehicle at all times. Since your body uses the feeling of thirst as a way to tell you that it is getting dehydrated, do not wait for it to kick in to take a sip.
3. Confirm Your Vehicle’s Height
Attempting to take your HGV through a gap that is too tiny for it is definitely one of the most common mistakes made by new HGV drivers. Pictures of angry road users trying to work around huge HGVs stuck or blocking bridges can be easily found all over the internet. HGV drivers are supposed to do their best to avoid causing damage to third party property, both privately and publicly owned, in addition to taking care of their own vehicles. To ensure that you make the right decisions when driving, it is important that you confirm the weight and dimensions of the vehicle you will be operating. You should never attempt to go through a gap that you think is too small.
4. Breaks Are There for a Reason
Your employer will remind you regularly that you have to take scheduled breaks that last for a given amount of time during each shift. Listen to your employer and make sure that you take your breaks as required. When you are working on a tight schedule or running late, it is easy for you to skip some breaks. However, when the time for a scheduled break arrives, make sure to stop your HGV and take some time off from driving. You can take this opportunity to get a cup of coffee or stretch your limbs by taking a short walk. Furthermore, you should take a break whenever you start feeling tired and sleepy during the drive.
5. Build Positive Relationships
It is imperative that you keep in contact with those close to you during your trips as it can get quite lonely on the road. More importantly, you should establish a positive communication habit with those scheduling drop-offs and pickups, those you are delivering to and the traffic office. Your work will be a little less stressful if you establish positive relationships with everyone who is directly involved.