Driving an HGV in hot weather

Temperatures during this summer have been steadily rising, hitting almost 40*C in parts of the UK during the 3 rd week of July. We’ve put together a few of the hazards that the extremely warm weather can throw up and tips on how to stay safe.

Tyre safety

Air expands in the heat and tyres & road surfaces can both reach incredibly hot temperatures, when this happens the performance of the tyres can be compromised. In extreme situations tyres can even blow out or catch fire! It’s advised that you check your tyres every 100 miles when driving in hot weather, monitoring them will keep your vehicle in optimal condition and keep you safe.

Brakes

Cold weather can impact your brakes, but so can hot weather, brakes already generate heat when used and the external heat can mean that this is slower to dissipate. This can lead to brakes becoming unpredictable, lose their effectiveness or fail entirely. This can be negated by checking that your brake fluid isn’t too old, that the brake pads are in good condition and by leaving big enough gaps between your own and other vehicles so you can slow down more gradually when braking.

Other motorists

With the warmer weather comes holidays and holiday traffic. These motorists often aren’t professional drivers and might be on unfamiliar routes. There’s a good chance they’ve not taken as many breaks as you might have done, meaning they’re more likely to be tired, irritable, confused and prone to making sudden or unsafe manoeuvres. Be cautious of other road users and give them as much distance as possible.

Sunburn

Trucker’s arm is an often joked about side effect of driving in hot weather with the window open, sunburn is a severe condition which has painful short-term and potentially dangerous long-term symptoms. Make sure that you’re covered up during the warmest parts of the day and generously apply sun cream to protect yourself.

Dress for the heat

While most drivers will have a unform for day to day work, most hauliers will accommodate for the hot weather. Rain gear and high-viz jackets might be a little excessive, leaving you uncomfortable and potentially overheated. Check with management what accommodations they have for the hot weather, but normally smart shorts and short-sleeved shirts are generally ok.

Eye protection

Bright sunlight along with reflections off surfaces can seriously compromise your visibility. Ensure that you’ve got sunglasses with you, ideally ones with polarised lenses which help to eliminate glare and reduced the blinding effect of sunlight. Also make full use of cab visors, especially during sunrise and sunset.

Hydration

Moderate hydration can cause tiredness, confusion and muscle cramps, all potentially dangerous when operating an HGV. We’d advise taking significantly more than the recommended 2 litres of water than the health authorities advise you drink daily. The hot weather will mean you drink considerably more than 2 litres per day and will help you maintain your concentration and alertness.

Air conditioning

Make the most of your air-con, if its been fitted to your vehicle, as it will reduced the heat and humidity in your cab. The highway code recommends a blast of cold air to cool your down and reduce drowsiness. Driving with the window down can have a similar effect if you don’t mind the air whipping around you. Both of these can have an impact on your fuel consumption, so be mindful of this when employing either solution.

Make the most of your breaks

Our bodies work overtime in the heat to cool us, take advantage of rest periods to cool down, refill water bottles, reapply sun cream and, if at truck-stops, take cool showers.

If need something moving across the UK this summer, we work with haulage firms who value their drivers comfort and safety during these hot months. Get in touch with us via our contact form or call us on +44 (0) 2380 860585

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