Motorway breakdowns involving heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) not only pose a severe risk because of their size and load, but also because they have limited visibility of other vehicles around them when they’re passing, overtaking or changing lanes.
HGV related breakdowns are the most dangerous when it comes to commercial vehicles, with the latest Domestic Road Freight Statistics report highlighting that 76% of all HGV recorded accidents involved navigating motorway standstills.
As a result, National Highways have recently launched a new campaign which aims to highlight the risks of HGV road safety, and educate all drivers around the importance of recognising HGV blind spots and limited visibility zones.
What’s the campaign, and why is it important?
The ‘know the zones’ road safety campaign is focussed on educating drivers as to where HGVs have limited visibility and where their blind spots are.
It’s launched following a recent survey commissioned by National Highways, which highlighted that whilst almost 3/4 of drivers say they do take extra care when overtaking a HGV, 36% still admitted that they didn’t know how many blind spots a HGV had, and 36% also said that passing the huge vehicles on busy and high-speed roads was a nerve wracking experience.
As a result, National Highways launched the ‘know the zones’ campaign to promote road safety across the entire motorway and major A-road network, as it plays such a crucial role in supporting economic growth and is used by tens of thousands of HGVs daily to connect products, people and businesses.
The campaign is also widely supported by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Logistics UK and other HGV bodies, with Richard Holden, the Road Safety Minister, commenting that whilst “we have some of the safest roads in the world, we are always looking at ways to make them safer… making motorists aware of HGV blind spots will help prevent road collisions and support our ambitions of building a safer road network.”
And what’s more, even HGV driver trainers themselves are in support of the campaign too, including Shannan Paterson who rose to fame as the BBCs ‘Queen of Trucks’.
Having ran her Willenhall-based HGV Training Midlands school since she was just 21, Shannan addresses the dangers of driving too close behind and in front of HGVs, as “driving a lorry is very different to driving a car, you can’t see anything behind you other than the trailer and your only vision is in front of you and in the side mirrors.”
“You don’t know if someone is immediately behind you, and they can’t see what is ahead of your HGV or if you are going to have to brake sharply for any reason, so if someone pulls in front of a HGV without leaving enough room, the lorry driver might not be able to see them at all in the blind spot below the cab and therefore won’t be able to judge their stopping distance properly.”
What’s the advice for drivers?
According to Jeremy Phillips, Head of Road Safety at National Highways, the “advice to motorists overtaking a HGV is simple; avoid tailgating the HGV when considering an overtaking manoeuvre and as the Highway Code states, do so quickly and safely to avoid staying in an area of limited visibility.”
For drivers, this comes down to 3 key points:
- Know the zones – these are the 4 main zones where their visibility is limited: at the front, back and both sides of the vehicle. If you don’t know where these zones are, you could be sitting in one without even realising and whereas now, HGVs can have additional mirrors as standard which helps to improve driver visibility, these do not completely eliminate blind spots, so it’s important to stay alert and vigilant.
- Only overtake HGVs where it’s safe to do so and you have enough time and space. HGV drivers do have to go through a lot of training to legally drive a lorry, but even professional drivers won’t be able to see someone if they’re in one of their blind spots.
- Where possible, don’t linger next to a HGV. The less time spent in or close to blind spots, the better.
No matter what, motorways always demand a drivers’ full attention. Not knowing these blind spot zones or taking unnecessary risks can have devastating consequences for every road user, and in the event of any HGV accident case, it’s imperative to have the vehicle recovered as safely and as quickly as possible.
How Egertons can support the safety of your HGVs
As one of the UK’s leading vehicle rescue and recovery operators, Egertons have services stretching from breakdown recovery to specialist assistance which are available 24/7/365 across the country.
Businesses choose us because of our sophisticated triage process, supported by our 24-hour control room, 300-strong fleet, vast range of equipment available on hand and the technology it is equipped with. This allows us to deploy the exact right vehicles, first time, helping to keep your vehicle downtime to an absolute minimum and ensure recovery takes place as safely and efficiently as possible, even when accidents and breakdowns happen on busy motorway stretches.
We’re the preferred vehicle rescue and recovery operator for UK fleets to rely on, no matter what, and we’ll be right here when you need us.