The road network of Britain is used by vehicles of different sizes, but it is probably the larger vehicles that play the most crucial role in Britain’s business. If you want to learn how to drive a truck, it’s important to first understand the key differences between Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and smaller vehicles.
Firstly, the size and weight of heavy goods lorries means that the time they take to reach top speed and come to a halt is a lot longer. The sheer mass of even a modest 7.5T lorry has the potential to do huge damage to other vehicles and road users as well as the road architecture such as bridges, barriers and buildings. The time a large vehicle takes to stop is hugely increased and should dictate the way HGV drivers approach the road.
The most obvious element of how to drive a truck safely is to reduce speed. However, safe driving does not begin and end at slowing down. Most heavy goods vehicles cannot reach the average speeds of the vehicles around them, and an increasing amount of lorries are fitted with a device that limits their speed to 60mph.
Sadly, a common sight on UK motorways is a lorry trying to overtake another. The practical and technical restrictions to the acceleration of such vehicles means that overtaking can take several minutes. The lorry in lane one is travelling at a consistent speed, perhaps at its physical limit. The likelihood is that the lorry in lane two cannot quickly overtake and return to lane one quickly and safely because the speed difference is so small.
As with all forms of driving, the person behind the wheel needs to be fully aware of the road conditions without distractions. The recent case of the lorry driver whose use of a smartphone led to the deaths of four people has brought this sharply into focus. The fact is, a lorry is a killing machine in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to drive a truck.
This is why you have to go through special training in order to be cleared to use one on Britain’s roads. The Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) is a comprehensive course designed to equip today’s industrial drivers with the skills necessary to safely operate HGVs on UK roads.