Keeping Safe and Compliant Whilst Driving an HGV
As an HGV Driver, there are many rules and regulations that
you need to follow regarding driving hours.
The hours an HGV driver works for is recorded by a tachograph. A tachograph is a device that is fitted to a vehicle that automatically records things such as a driver’s speed, distance and time driven.
There are two types of tachograph, a digital tachograph which automatically records all data and stores it on the driver’s card. An analogue tachograph needs the driver to enter the details manually and is recorded on paper.
Who Needs a tachograph?
You need a tachograph if your vehicle comes under EU or AETR rules. A few examples of vehicles that require a tachograph include:
- Vehicles carrying passengers e.g. coach drivers
- HGV’s e.g. carrying goods
- Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes used for business
A tachograph is not required for private use such as towing a caravan.
What Are the Rules Regarding HGV Driving Hours?
If you drive an HGV, then you need to be aware of the rules that are in place for driving hours and rest periods. You must follow these rules because if you don’t it can result in fixed penalties and points on your licence. The maximum daily limit that HGV drivers are allowed to drive for in a day is 9 hours, this can be increased to 10 hours twice in a week. The maximum weekly allowance is 56 hours and the maximum 2 weekly limits is 90 hours.
When completing a journey, you must take a 45-minute break when you have driven for 4.5 hours. Additionally, you can take split breaks which means you can split your 45-minute break into a 15-minute break followed by a 30-minute break.
Finally, a rest period needs to be taken. A regular daily rest period is 11 hours, this can also be taken in 2 parts of 3 hours uninterrupted rest, followed by at least 9 hours. A driver can also take a reduced daily rest period which is a minimum of 9 hours uninterrupted rest, this can only be done 3 times a week.
For example, if you drove for 4.5 hours you would need to take a 45-minute break before you could complete another 4.5 hours. This would equate to the maximum 9 hours driving limit a day. Additionally, you would need an 11-hour rest period between then and the next time you start to drive.
Can These Rules Change?
There are a few instances in which these rules can be temporarily relaxed such as:
- Severe weather conditions
- Road traffic accidents
- Mechanical breakdowns
- Causes or likely causes of danger to life or health to people or animals.
A driver can also continue driving in order to find a safe place to stop and need to record the reasons for which they had to continue driving.
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As an HGV driver, you need to ensure that your vehicle is fit for purpose before you start any journey. Many vehicle safety checks need to be completed both inside and outside your vehicle.
Some interior checks that need to be completed are:
- No cracks, discolouring or scratches to any glass or mirrors.
- All mirrors are in place and aren’t damaged or have any objects blocking them.
- All windscreen wipers work and aren’t damaged.
- No obstruction to the windscreen, meaning your view of the road needs to be clear.
- All dashboard lights and gauges are working.
- The horn works.
- Height marker shows the correct height for your vehicle.
- Seatbelts work and don’t have any cuts/damages, stay secure when plugged in, constrict against you when fastened and fully retract when released.
- The steering is working correctly.
- The brakes are working correctly.
Exterior checks include:
- All lights and indicators work properly and are secured correctly. Additionally, check that stop lights come on when the service break is pressed and go off when it is released.
- Check the fuel filler cap is fitted properly and check underneath the vehicle for any leaks.
- The battery is secure, in good condition and isn’t leaking at all.
- All cab/trailer doors are secured, fastening devices work, body panels aren’t likely to fall off.
- The exhaust doesn’t give out larger than expected amounts of smoke.
Tyres& wheels are secure, inflated correctly, wheel nuts are tightened, no deep cuts or visible cords showing and tyresneed to have a tread depth of at least 1mm.
- Brake line and trailer parking brakes work & have no obstructions, leaks or damages that could affect their performance.
- Check every electrical connection and ensure that visible wiring is insulted and not damaged. Also, check all electrical switches work.
- The load of the vehicle is secure and doesn’t look like it will move around on your journey. If you aren’t satisfied with how the load is secure ensure it is checked again by someone else and potentially re-loaded.
- Number plates must be visible meaning they can’t be faded, dirty or covered by anything. It is also important to check that number plates aren’t broken or have incorrect spacing.
- Reflectors & side reflectors aren’t missing, broken, the wrong
colouror covered by dirt or other objects.
- The trailer legs are wound up, secure and aren’t in the way of any hazards that could be in the road.
- Marking & warning plates are the right colour, visible and fastened properly.
- Check your vehicle is securely attached to your trailer and that the trailer and secondary locking devices are in the correct position.
- The handbrake works and is secured.
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