If you’re a professional HGV driver, odds are you have a manager of some sort. Even though you aren’t in an office or under direct supervision most of the time, there will still be someone within the company who you report to, and who makes sure everything is happening as it should in your day-to-day work. For a successful career as a driver, you need to be able to work closely with this person, ensuring their life is made as easy as possible since they will then be able to make your life easier as well.
Since we specialise in training new HGV drivers for the industry, we work closely with both hiring managers and driver managers, and over the years we’ve learnt a lot about what makes them happy, and what has them tearing their hair out. So to help you get your career started on the right foot, we’ve pulled together 5 of the most common things HGV drivers do that drive their managers insane – and how to avoid doing them yourself.
This is an absolute basic, and something you’re taught pretty much on Day 1 of your training, but you would be amazed at how many drivers forget to put their driver card into the tachograph before they start any journey in the HGV, no matter how short. There are 3 big problems with doing this. First is that it’s illegal to drive a HGV without a driver card in the tachograph. Second is that without one, there is no ‘qualified driver’ operating the vehicle, which makes any potential insurance claims an absolute nightmare, and may even invalidate the insurance completely. And thirdly, not putting your card in means that the tachograph isn’t associated with the driver, which causes huge headaches when it comes to sorting out timesheets and payroll, and could end up meaning you aren’t paid for work you’ve done.
One sure-fire way to make your fleet manager really make your manager tear their hair out is by misreporting your hours, either by accident or intentionally. In the best case, you’re once again causing problems with payroll and timesheets, which means you could be short changing yourself out of hard-earned money, and causing a load of unnecessary stress for the folks in payroll who have to clean up the mess. Worst case scenario? Your manager could end up believing you’re breaking the law when you aren’t, or vice versa, and that has some pretty big consequences.
This one is all too easy to do by accident, and is what most drivers end up doing at least once in their career (if not once a week!). When you go to record your time in the tachograph, it’s simple to hit the ‘other work’ button instead of the ‘break’ button and not even realise it. But while this might seem like a small, simple problem, it can actually cause a lot of headaches. For one, it messes up the data for the people processing payroll, which means you might not end up being paid the right amount for the hours you work. It might also mean you miss your legally mandated break times, which can cause problems for you and your employer. So take an extra second and make sure you’re pressing the right buttons!
Planning is an important part of your job as a HGV driver. Particularly, you need to be good at planning your time, your routes and your breaks. Your employer is responsible for ensuring you are taking the right number of breaks during your shift, and that they last the right amount of time. However since you are the one on the road, it’s you who will be in charge of making sure you actually take those breaks properly and record them. If you don’t, you could end up fatigued and dangerous on the road, not to mention opening yourself and your company up to a lot of fines and legal problems if you are driving longer than four and a half hours without a break. So take a little extra time to plan when you need to take your breaks, and where you plan to take them.
More specifically, not being accessible while you’re out and on the road. Obviously you shouldn’t answer your phone if it rings while you’re driving – that’s unsafe and illegal – but often it can be difficult for managers to tell if you’re not answering because you’re driving, or because you just don’t want to. You can do a lot to help your manager feel more comfortable and stay accessible while on the road. Simple things like letting them know your routes and plans before setting off, keeping them in the loop if anything changes, and reporting back to them any issues that might affect your ETA, like traffic jams, diversions and accidents.
These 5 things might seem simple, but they are some of the most common things HGV drivers forget to do, sometimes on an almost daily basis. This leads to a lot of problems for managers who are just trying to keep things running smoothly and efficiently, and ultimately make your job of driving a HGV more stressful than it needs to be. But if you can avoid them, your life will be much simpler, and your manager will thank you for it. If you would like to know more, or start your HGV training journey today, just get in touch with the team today.
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