Driving an HGV is not like driving any ‘regular’ vehicle – I’m sure this fact has not escaped you.
But lugging around a large and potentially dangerous 30-tonne vehicle is no laughing matter – especially if you are involved in a crash.
Crashes can be scary and extremely dangerous whatever vehicle is involved and it is easy to be clueless or forgetful about something you may never have experienced before. For HGV drivers, there is added pressure, in that crashes involving heavier loaded vehicles have the potential for more damage and potential for greater loss of life.
As a trained HGV professional, you owe it to yourself and other fellow passengers to be totally clued up about what to do if you, or anyone you witness has a crash. With so many hours on the road logged every year, it might not be you involved – but you could still help.
Here is our HGV driver-guide to what to do in the event of a crash.
Table of Contents
The Immediate Aftermath Of A Serious Crash
It may sound obvious, but the first thing you need to do is comes to a safe stop. Depending on the nature of the crash – that might already have happened or might be out of your control – If you crash is significant, this might be out of your hands.
If you can,
- Pullover to the left. Ideally a hard, flat surface – avoid slopes or soft ground.
- If possible, make it to a safe stop or emergency telephone point – this minimises the need for foot travel (for motorways only).
- turn off the engine to reduce the risk of fire.
- turn on your hazard lights.
- Exit for the side furthest from traffic.
- Chock your wheels if you are on a slope.
- Wear a high viz vest (In a contrast colour to your HGV livery) This should be bright, but also must be reflective – for incidents at night or during poor visibility.
- Protect yourself behind barriers or up the verge if you are on the motorway.
- Place hazard warning triangle about 50m behind the vehicle to warn oncoming traffic, and place another in front of the vehicle if you are on a blind corner.
- Hazard warning triangle should not be used on Motorways.
Think About Yourself First
When and if you can, assess your health
- Are you injured?
- Are you trapped or unable to move?
- Are you in a safe position or able to get to one?
- Are you in shock?
- This is a natural and expected situation, regardless of speed or intensity. Give yourself time to take a few deep breathes and calm yourself, if possible.
- If you (or someone else) is injured, in pain, or unsure of injury you should not attempt to move or be moved until assessed by emergency healthcare professional. This rule must also be applied to any others involved in a crash.
- The only situation when you might have to move yourself or someone else is if there is an immediate threat to life – fire, fuel leak, oncoming traffic, dangerous load.
Make Emergency Services (And Others) Aware
Once you have a handle on your condition, assess whether the emergency services need to be contacted.
If the crash is significant, chances are police might already be aware – but don’t assume others will have already phoned. Ring 999 and report the incident – as an HGV driver there are considerations which you will be aware of, that others will not report.
- Wait for the police or emergency services to arrive – give exact details of the incident, injuries and most importantly to begin with – Location
Location is vital in getting required help as fast as possible – that’s why it is best to use designated emergency phone boxes if possible, as location triangulation will be immediate and 100% accurate if you do.
- Are you carrying a dangerous or unsafe load?
- Or is the load you are carrying now in an unsafe position to you or to other road users?
- Is the condition of your HGV vehicle or any others involved dangerous – oil or fuel spill from the cab?
- Are you carrying chemicals or volatile or toxic substances – has their safe storage been compromised?
- Don’t touch any chemical spills or inhale any vapours and try to prevent others from doing the same, but only if safe to do so.
- If you know you are carrying a dangerous load, try to warn people away.
Calling the emergency services also applies to a dropped load – do not attempt to recover on your own.
If there is anything on the road that you can’t move, or if fluids have spilt you must inform the authorities. Fluid can be extremely hazardous to road users, particularly motorcyclists. For A roads or motorways in England or Wales, contact Highways England or report a spillage here.
Hopefully, your crash is not serious – with no injury or threat to life. In these situations, you have a lot more control and can take actions which will make life easier for you and all concerned and ensure the safety and security of whatever load you are carrying.
You still need to follow the basic instructions above, regarding the immediate aftermath but can adjust according to need.
These points can also refer to simple breakdowns or tyre blow-outs, which can still be scary when transporting such big and heavy loads.
After making yourself safe, you must exchange details with involved parties.
Government guidance on what info you need is found here if you’re in an accident.
Give the following information to anyone with ‘reasonable grounds for requiring them’. (In most cases this will be insurance companies.)
- Vehicle registration number.
- Owner name and address (if you or other party is not the registered owner).
- Insurance company if possible.
- Make sure you get the same information yourself.
- You must report the incident to the police within 24 hours if they are not called to the scene.
- You must report the incident to your insurance company – even if you have no intention to claim.
Considerations For Your Vehicle, Employer, Load
Often, as an HGV driver, you need to know your way around the vehicle technically. But don’t be tempted to carry out repairs unless authorised by your employer, are qualified and are in a safe position to do so.
In fact, after speaking to police and other parties, your first call should be to your employer to let them know. They can make sure you use the correct services they have arranged – when dealing with HGV vehicles, which are a massive asset to any organisation, they will have specific plans for how to maintain them. Be it tyre changes, recovery vehicles or repair.
What About The Load?
There are various reasons why you might have to give extra consideration for your load. On most occasions it might not be possible, but where safe to do so try not to leave your load.
You might be carrying:
- Livestock – consider weather and food and water requirements.
- Dangerous goods – are they safe and secured from others?
- Chilled goods – is the chiller still working? Is the consignment ruined?
- Cement Mixer – again, is that load now ruined – where was it going?
In these instances, inform the dispatcher as soon as possible, so they can notify the end customer and arrange alternatives, if possible.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider if you are involved in a crash. No one is expecting you to remember everything. But take a breath, take your time and you will recall more than you think. The government has a superb website which covers all talking points in great detail so visit https://www.safedrivingforlife.info/safe-and-responsible-lorry-driving for an authoritative account of what you should and shouldn’t do.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our post and find it helpful. If you have any questions or would like to find out more on our latest HGV jobs, simply give us a call on 01604 761206, our team at Global Employment Bureau is always happy to help you.