Vehicle handling

Key messages

  • Workplace transport managers need to understand a vehicle's
  • As far as possible vehicles should not have to reverse.

Questions to ask

Your risk assessment should include answers to the questions:

  • How big are the vehicle and the load?
  • How easy is it to manoeuvre the vehicle?
  • What is the standard of visibility (forward and mirrors)
  • Do vehicles need to reverse?


Drivers of large vehicles, especially articulated and drawbar combinations, often need to perform complicated manoeuvres to turn safely, because the trailers swing out behind the tractive unit. This often involves taking the tractive unit in a larger circle than a car would follow.

Most vehicles using European roads have to be able to turn within the space between an inner circle of 5.3 m radius and an outer circle of 12.5 m radius.

If large goods vehicles are using your site, you need to make routes wide enough for them to manoeuvre safely and to pass each other with room to spare wherever possible.


Forward visibility needs to be good enough to allow drivers to see and avoid hazards.

Visibility is related to:

  • vehicle speed;
  • the distance the driver needs to avoid hazards – by stopping or changing direction safely;
  • available light;
  • environmental considerations such as dust or bad weather;
  • the height of the driver's eyes from the road; and
  • the general level of visibility from the vehicle.

Junctions and bends

There should be enough visibility at junctions and bends to allow drivers and pedestrians to see anything that might be dangerous.

Avoid sharp or blind bends on vehicle routes wherever possible. Where you cannot avoid them, you should consider measures such as mirrors to help drivers and pedestrians see what is around the corner. When you cannot improve visibility at a bend or junction, you may need to:

  • provide stop signs or signals;
  • prevent people from using the junction or bend altogether by enforcing a one-way system; and/or
  • block the road


Landscaping can often reduce visibility. Grass banks, hedges, planters and other landscaping features can be used as traffic-calming features, but they should not interfere with drivers' and pedestrians' visibility.


As far as possible vehicles should not have to reverse. If you can, use one-way road layouts and drive-through loading bays.

One-way systems

One-way systems are an effective way of dealing with the risk of reversing accidents. The advantages of a one-way system are that:

  • It helps pedestrians know which direction vehicles are likely to be coming from.
  • It is easier to arrange routes so they allow for good visibility around corners and at crossing points.

Whenever possible, one-way systems should work clockwise around a site, as this is the direction most drivers will expect.

Where reversing cannot be avoided

If reversing cannot be avoided, organise routes to reduce – as far as possible – the need for reversing and the distance that vehicles have to travel backwards. Other examples of measures that help to prevent the need for reversing include

  • ring roads;
  • drive-through loading and unloading positions; and
  • parking areas with entrances and exits on either side.

When visibility at a bend or junction cannot be improved, stop signs or signals may be appropriate. It may be necessary to prevent people from using the junction or bend altogether by enforcing a one-way system, or even blocking the road.

In workplaces where one-way systems are not practical, it may be appropriate to use cul-de-sac or other arrangements to allow vehicles to turn and drive forwards for most of the time. Turning arrangements should ideally be a roundabout or a 'banjo' [PDF 34KB] type, although 'hammerhead' [PDF 46KB] and 'stub' [PDF 34KB] arrangements may be acceptable.

Physical measures

If you find it hard to enforce rules on vehicle movements, think about installing physical measures, for example:

  • gates;
  • barriers;
  • flow plates (sprung flaps that only allow vehicles to cross in one direction); and
  • control spikes (sprung tines that act the same way as flow plates, sometimes called 'crocodile teeth' or 'dragon's teeth').

These measures can be very effective.


Find out more about:

  • how large vehicles move in the Freight Transport Association publication Designing for Deliveries.
  • identifying the types of vehicle that use your workplace
  • physical measures to enforce rules on vehicle movements

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