The vast majority of journeys by trucks pass off without any major, or indeed minor, incidents, but sometimes poor advance planning can leave a driver in a mess and cost them time and so money.

Plan your route

Planning a route in advance will save you time and money, but also it should eliminate any incidents happening on the way which are avoidable.

A good lorry driver will plan their route according to their delivery and collection points so as to avoid double backing on themselves at any point.

They need to know the address and opening times of any point where they are delivering to or collecting from. Obviously they are unlikely you be able to do collections until deliveries are complete.

A truck’s load needs to be loaded so the first drop is at the rear and the last drop is at the front as this will keep the weight better distributed and also allow the vehicle to handle better when part of the load is taken off.

If the trailer is a box van, then it is imperative the first drop is at the rear.

However, equally important, is that drivers need to be careful that unloading from the back does not make them overweight on their front axles – and repositioning some of the remaining load during the day might be necessary.

Know your size and weight

But while that is plain and simple logistics planning, routing of a truck is so much more than going from A toD via B and C.

Before you set out, and as part of your vehicle checks, you must be fully aware of the weight and size of your vehicle.

Knowing your height is of paramount importance so you do not hit low bridges. and in that respect you must also check your route to ensure that you are taking the best route for the job.

It is impossible to stress how important it is to answer that key question ‘is your truck going to fit under any low bridges you may encounter?’

Bridge bashing is, sadly, still an everyday occurrence and it should not be.
Even if you don’t physically hit a bridge, because you spot the hazard in time, you may realise that you have already gone too far down the road only to then find it very hard to turn your truck around.

And in addition to that, having to stop, and retrace your route because you didn’t take notice of low bridge signs wastes time and fuel going down a road you can’t fit.

Roadworks and diversions

Likewise, roadworks and diversions can be problematic – checking your route in advance will allow you to take an alternative should you find it’s not wholly open.

Obviously, no amount of forward route planning can legislate for an enforced road closure, maybe because of an accident.

It’s always wise to listen to the radio for travel updates which may allow you to avoid getting stuck in a traffic jam. But this will, of course, result in an on the hoof change of route plan.

Truck drivers aren’t as reliant on SatNavs as your average motorists, and any good truck driver will always have a road atlas in their cab.

But if you do get unexpectedly diverted off route due to an enforced road closure then it’s always wise to stop at the first safe and sensible place to check what new routes are available to you and whether there are any weight limits or low bridges that could impede your progress.

If in doubt, stop and check as soon as possible.

Post-journey checks

As well as your mandatory pre-journey checks, it’s always wise to undertake a simple post journey checks. These include checking your vehicle is still fit for purpose – you haven’t had blown any bulbs or had any straps come lose.

Other checks can be for tyre quality and wheelnuts, sideguards and also that your rear registration plate is still in situ.

This visual check should only take a few minutes but could save you hours the next morning and it will give you time to address any issues in time for the truck’s next outing be it under your control or another driver.