Safe Driving Tips

This section gives you important advice on how to safely drive and correctly load your vehicle.

The following safe driving tips have been provided by drivers and instructors with many years' experience in the heavy vehicle industry:

Stay alert

  • be on the lookout for potential hazards all the time
  • don't just look straight ahead - keep your eyes moving.  You should use your mirrors often enough to be aware of surrounding traffic.  Depending on conditions, this is every 5 to 10 seconds.

Keep fit

  • driving is a physical job, and it requires flexibiity and fitness
  • a fit driver gets tired less easily and copes with stress better
  • have regular health checks and get plenty of sleep

Develop a positive attitude

  • being on the road a lot, you are likely to sometimes encounter inconsiderate and dangerous driving from others - don't let it get to you, and brush it off

Be polite and courteous when you drive:

  • remember, you are a representative not only of your company, but the whole 'trucking' industry.

Safe driving practices

At the start of the day, always do a walk-around check of your vehicle using your EROAD Driver Vehicle Inspection (DVI) checklist.  In particular, check:

  • water, oil and fuel levels
  • compressed air braking system
  • tyres (check tread and inflation pressure)
  • wheel nuts
  • trailer coupling devices (including air hoses and wiring cables)
  • mirrors (must be clean and set correctly)
  • lights
  • horn
  • wipers
  • windscreen (must be clean)
  • vehicle registration
  • number plates and reflectors (must be clean)
  • warrant of fitness (WoF) or certificate of fitness (CoF)
  • road user charges (RUC) licence or time licence
  • loading certificate
  • tare weight displayed
  • company documents
  • EROAD Electronic Logbook
  • dangerous goods documentation/placarding, if required
  • any damage that may have occurred on a previous trip
  • load (must be secure).

Drive smoothly

To drive more efficiently:

  • move smoothly through the gears
  • avoid aggressive braking and gear changes
  • drive so the vehicle is 'cruising' all the time - it will save on wear and tear, and you'll have more attention to devote to what's happening on the road around you.

Check your load

When checking your load, the most important thing to look for is load security  The driver is responsible for making sure that the load is secure and loaded correctly.  

You should check that your load is secure after:

  • each rest stop
  • driving over uneven surfaces.

Brake correctly

When braking, never slam on the brakes - instead apply pressure to the brakes gradually, increasing pressure as the vehicle slows.

When driving a curve:

  • brake before entering the curve
  • maintain a steady speed through the curve
  • accelerate out of the curve (braking on a curve could cause you to lose control).


If the vehicle you're driving develops a fault, you should take action to ensure the fault is fixed as soon as possible.  If you drive for a company, you must report the fault in writing to the appropriate person (in line with company procedures).  If the fault affects the safe handling of a vehicle, it must not be driven until the fault is fixed. 

Safe loading

There are many laws you must follow when loading a heavy vehicle or driving a heavy vehicle that is carrying a load of any kind. You can be prosecuted for failing to follow the laws relating to vehicle loading, so it is important that you are familiar with them.

Carry dangerous goods

Dangerous goods are potentially life-threatening hazards, for both you, other road users and the environment.  To carry dangerous goods, you will need a D endorsement on your licence, which will need to be renewed every five years.  Dangerous goods include substances and articles that have explosive, flammable, toxic, infectious or corrosive properties.  They also include containers that have held dangerous goods.  When driving a vehicle that is carrying dangerous goods, you must also:

  • carry documents that identify the dangerous goods
  • display the relevant placards on the vehicle (some of the placards are shown below)
  • separate dangerous goods from other incompatible goods.

Examples of dangerous goods placards

 toxic signexplosives sign Copydangerous goods sign Copy

 Refer to Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 2005 for full information.


The Safe Driving content is courtesy of NZ Transport Agency (NZTA)


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