If you are considering HGV driving in the UK as a career, understanding everything about the job as a truck driver before investing hard earned cash is important.
A truck driving job can be challenging plus it can involve working long hours away from home which is not ideal for everyone, we take a look at HGV driving the UK, things to consider plus the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a UK truck driver.
How To Become an HGV Driver in the UK
Before considering to become a HGV driver in the UK you must be at least 18 years old and hold a full UK car driving license.
If you are 18 years old and have a full car license you will now be able to apply for a provisional HGV driving license.
There are 2 stages to apply for the provisional license which include a D2 and D4 form which are available from driver and vehicle licencing agency (DVLA), the D2 form is information about yourself and the license that you are applying for, the D4 form has to be filled in by your doctor or a private medical service that specialise in completing driver medical examinations, the latter is very often cheaper than a local doctors surgery.
Once the 2 forms have been completed you can now apply to the DVLA for your provisional licence.
The provisional driving license can take up to 3 weeks to process so be prepared for the wait!
Once you have received your nice new shiny provisional truck driving license you will need to complete a four part test that consists of:
- Driver CPC part 1 Theory test.
- Driver CPC part 2 Case Studies test.
- Driver CPC part 3 driving ability.
- Driver CPC part 4 Practical Demonstration.
Once all these parts have been passed you will then be a qualified HGV driver and you will receive a driver qualification card, also known as the Driver certificate of professional competence (CPC Card).
One more step that will need to be completed is to apply for a Digital Tachograph driver card, this card is essential for driving modern trucks that are fitted with a digital tachograph Unit.
The process of becoming an HGV driver can be costly, not only in money but also the length of time it takes to complete all the steps.
The license will allow you to drive a rigid vehicle upto 32 tons, recently the government made changes that will allow you to take your class one test without doing the class 2 driving test if you want to, you are then also able to drive articulated vehicles up to 44 tons.
Potential Earnings for UK HGV Drivers
Right now in the UK their is a shortage of HGV drivers across the country of up to 100,000 so the salaries for trucking in the UK are beginning to rise in 2021.
Depending on the type of trucking job you want to do salaries vary from £24,000 to £35,000 per annum for new drivers.
To achieve more earnings it may be worth considering taking further tests such as an ADR to haul fuel or chemicals, a rear mounted forklift license, or a rear mounted crane test for example.
Having the ability to drive trucks that require extra qualification can increase your earning potential providing you find a good company that pays well for your qualifications.
Earnings with extra qualifications can be as much as £60,000 per year especially if you carry dangerous goods.
HGV Driver Responsibilities
An HGV driver has many responsibilities to carry out and does not simply involve driving a truck, here are some of the daily tasks you will need to do as an HGV driver.
- Vehicle checks: a driver is responsible for checking his or her vehicle every day to ensure it is safe to be driven on the road, this is achieved by completing a defect report form in a defect book or completing a defect app on your phone depending where you work.
- Checking The Load: It is essential that any load you carry is safe and it is the drivers responsibility to ensure it secure and also that the vehicle is not overloaded. Weight distribution of the load is also important so that your axle weights don’t exceed the maximum required for your vehicle.
- Driving The Truck: there are legal requirements a driver must abide by when driving an HGV truck, drivers hours and regulations must be adhered to to ensure you don’t exceed your driving hours, you take breaks when required with tacho rules plus you do not exceed the speed limit.
- Unloading: Depending what type of truck you drive the unloading procedure can vary, you may be required to do multi-drop deliveries which will involve making sure your weight distribution is still maintained once goods start to be unloaded from the vehicle, if you drive a curtain sided vehicle the curtains will need to be opened and closed again securely before continuing. All tie down straps that are removed will need to be stored safely before continuing to your next drop, and paperwork will need to be completed to show you have delivered your goods.
- Backloads: Very often after delivering all your goods you will be required to collect other goods to bring back with you so that the vehicle is more efficient and not travelling great distances empty, this is called backloading.
HGV Driver Safety and Equipment
Health and Safety is important for HGV drivers and there are many things to consider.
When working for a company they will normally provide you with basic safety gear such as gloves, hard hat, high vis, eye protection glasses, and boots.
Making sure that you have all the necessary equipment to enable you to complete your driving day safely is an important part of HGV driving.
Also supplies and equipment such as drinking water, cooking equipment, kettle, in cab items especially if you do nights out, such as a truck TV, Power inverter, dash cam, fridge, sleeping bag, portable toilet, and loo rolls, for example.
- Working alone can be peaceful.
- You get to travel to different parts of the country.
- You can earn money by taking different courses such as ADR.
- Long hours can impact on family life.
- You have to drive in all weather conditions.
- You can be fined by the DVSA if there is a problem with your vehicle.
In conclusion, HGV driving in the UK can be a great career but the process of obtaining a HGV driving license can take weeks if not months to achieve.
Taking extra courses will allow you to drive different types of trucks and potentially allow you to earn more money HGV driving.