A Selection of Safety Notes
Taken from the Heavy Vehicle Driverís Handbook

Issued by the R.T.A.

The following extracts have been selected as important changes to the previous driving code and should be noted and understood by our Brigade drivers.

Auxiliary brakes or speed retarder:These types of brakes are fitted to medium and  large vehicles. They will not stop the vehicle completely but will help to slow it down. They are independent of the service brakes as they act on the engine or drivetrain. The 3 most common types are:exhaust brake, engine brake, electric, magnetic or hydraulic retarder. The braking force of an auxiliary brake can cause a lightly loaded vehicle to skid or jack-knife or slippery roads

.Braking recommendations: Brake early and gradually. Where possible, brake when your vehicle is driving in a straight line.

Allow for the weight of the load - a loaded vehicle takes far more braking effort to slow down than an unloaded one. Brake according to the road surface - allow more braking distance if the road is gravel,steep or slippery. Ease off the brakes as the vehicle slows down. Always test the brakes immediately after driving through deep water as wet brakes are often not efficient. The usual service brake should be used under all norma1 conditions.

Braking going down hills..Brake failure often occurs going down hills as a result of poor driving. Dependence on the brakes to slow a vehicle travelling downhill causes overheating which in turn leads to brake fade, or brake burn-out in which the brake linings completely lose their grip and are no longer effective. Brake failure can be prevented by good driving techniques.

When going down hills:

Select a gear low enough to slow down the vehicle without the constant use of brakes. If you try to gear down but you miss the gear, stop the vehicle with the brakes immediately, then select the correct gear. Attempting to coast while you struggle with the gears is very dangerous.

Synchromesh gear box:

This type of gear box works in much the same manner as those in most modern cars. They are easy to use, as the synchronising of the gears is done by the gear box. Skill is still required to avoid damage by forcing gear changes before the engine and road speeds are matched.

Automatic gear box: These work in much the same manner as in modern automatic cars.

Double-declutching: Double-declutching is not recommended for synchromesh gear boxes as it may cause long term damage.

ABOUT DRIVING - Gear boxes..Double-declutching means to change gear, by moving the gear lever first into neutral and then into the desired gear, releasing the clutch-pedal between each movement. This is best learn from someone who is experienced with this practice.

General gear shifting rules Going up hills:shift down early to prevent engine  Lugging (lugging is shuddering or excessive vibration in the engine)use engine torque efficiently, (engine torque is the turning force available at the crankshaft) -do not let engine revs fall below the maximum torque speedshifting down 2 or more gears at once may be necessary when going up a steep hill. Before going down a hill: reduce speed and select the correct gear before you begin the descent.

 It is very important that you select a gear low enough to SLOW down the vehicle. If you try to gear, down but you miss the gear, stop the vehicle with the brakes immediately, then select the correct gear. Attempting to coast while you struggle with the gears is very dangerous do not try to change gears while going  down hill as you can loose control of the vehicle.Before entering a sharp curve: reduce speed and select the correct gear before you enter the curve. The gear you select should have the engine revs near the maximum torque level (as specified by the engine manufacturer) allowing you to accelerate smoothly out of the turn.  Slowing and stopping.

When slowing or stopping a heavy vehicle it is best to use your brakes only (except when driving down a very steep hill).                                                                             Shifting down through the gears as you slow down is not recommended because: it adds to your work load.if an emergency occurs during a downshift, you may be caught unprepared with your foot off the brake and your vehicle out of gear repeated brake applications between downshifts waste compressed air and wear out the brakes,downshifts waste fuel and increase clutch, gear box and engine wear, in residential areas, unnecessary downshifting causes extra noise and pollution (see Noise pollution and Smoke from engines)never drive out of gear. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to LOSS of vehicle control and overheated brakes.

 Driver Rules


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