Driving infront of, or even behind, an HGV can be a bit daunting. But there’s no need to panic as Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of riding and driving standards, is here to help with seven top driving behaviour tips to keep you at ease on the road.
If you have friends and family who are unaware of advanced driving techniques, please share these tips with them to help them stay safe on the road.
When you’re driving along the motorway, you’ll notice a lot of foreign HGV number plates. Bear in mind that the driver will be sitting on the left hand side rather than the right, so you may be difficult to see and the driver may be acclimatising his lane position in the UK. Take extra care when passing and allow more space if you can.
We’ve all heard the saying “if you can see their mirrors, then they can see you.” But an HGV can have up to five mirrors, and the driver is only limited to looking at one at a time so they may not see you. Hold back and you will eventually be visible in their mirrors.
Identify when there is a likelihood of the HGV changing lanes. Is there a slip road coming up which will be joining traffic and may force a lane change? Or if there is an HGV in lane two, are they likely to change back into lane one? Be accommodating by hanging back and allowing them to pull into the lane they are looking to move into.
At one point in time, we’ve all experienced heavy spray from an HGV in front of us, you can control this by extending the distance between yourself and the lorry. The Highway Code suggests four seconds in the rain but if needed, make it more. Not only will it prevent your wipers working overtime, it will also improve your vision beyond the HGV.
An articulated lorry will track sideways in a right hand bend on the motorway and on a roundabout so avoid being beside it. A good rule of thumb is to be safely infront of or safely behind, but never beside an HGV when entering a roundabout.
If you see a queue of traffic infront of you and have an HGV behind you, introduce your brake lights early to pre-warn the driver behind and slow down gradually. This will let the HGV driver extend their braking distance and stop in plenty of time. On a motorway or dual carriageway, hazard lights can be used to show drivers behind you of any issues further in front (Highway Code rule 116).
Despite being legally limited to 60mph, an HGV can only physically go a maximum of 56mph on the motorway. So if you do see a HGV on the right hand lane, give them a helping hand by slowing down and letting them into the left lane. Facilitate the pass if you can.
Richard says: “As any HGV driver will tell you, they sometimes need a bit of extra space to move down the road. Visibility can be restricted, and no amount of mirrors will allow all of the blind spots to be monitored all of the time. By applying some simple rules and sharing the road space, we can make life easier for all of us. On a roundabout they will need more than one lane so let them have it, a few seconds delay will be worth it if you prevent an accident. Walk that mile in the other man’s shoes and understand what we may need.”