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Restrictions when Driving an HGV in London: What You Need To Know

HGV Training Centre

Restrictions when Driving an HGV in London: What You Need To Know 

Driving an HGV can be a thrilling and lucrative way to transform your career and unlock new opportunities. However, depending on where you plan to start working in your new role, you might find yourself facing a few unique restrictions and challenges. 

London, for instance, is brimming with specific rules placed on the drivers of larger vehicles, lorries, and trucks throughout the capital city. If you’re going to be driving in London, you can expect to deal with congestion charges, low emission zones, and specific safety requirements on a relatively frequent basis. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re up-to-date with the rules and restrictions in place throughout the city before you start searching for a new role.

Here are some of the most common restrictions which might impact your driving experience when you’re operating an HGV in London.

Safety Permits and the Direct Vision Standard

One of the most important things you’ll need to be aware of when driving in London, is that there are specific safety requirements in place for all drivers, starting with the “Direct Vision Standard”. The “DVS” helps to reduce the risk to vulnerable road users from HGV drivers, by ensuring HGV drivers can see well through their cab windows.  

Adhering to the Direct Vision Standard, and operating a vehicle within London will require you to apply for a valid safety permit before you enter the area. The Safety Permit Scheme for HGVs in London covers the majority of Greater London, and it’s in operation every day of the year. 

It’s free to apply for a permit, and you can usually get some help from your employer when doing so. Successfully receiving a permit will mean ensuring a vehicle meets with the “minimum star rating” for DVS. The Gov.uk website suggests applying for permits as early as possible, as it can take a while to get approval, and implement any changes which need to be made to a vehicle. 

Vehicles registered outside of the UK which weigh over 12 tonnes also need to hold a valid permit, using the star system. While there are a small number of vehicles which are entitled to an exemption, don’t just assume you don’t need one. Driving an HGV without a permit could lead to a penalty charge of up to £550 for an HGV driver. 

Additional Training Requirements

All HGV drivers require the right training and education to ensure they can safely operate heavy machinery on the roads of the UK. That’s why offer step-by-step guidance and support to help HGV drivers start their new career here at the HGV Training Centre

However, if you’re driving in London, you may find you need to take some additional tests to prove you can keep other road users safe. For instance, in recent years, a large number of cyclists and motorcyclists have been injured and killed by HGV drivers throughout London. As a result, the Mayor of London introduced the “Cycle Safety Action plan” to help reduce the number of potential casualties within the city. This action plan places greater focus on HGV drivers. 

In some cases, you may be required to complete a “TFL Safe Urban Driving CPC” before you can start driving around London. It’s also worth noting that some government groups are currently discussing the option to potentially prevent HGV drivers from accessing certain roads all together. So, you’ll need to ensure you stay up-to-date with the latest restrictions. 

The Lorry Control Scheme and Restricted Routes

Speaking of restricted routes, the locations you can drive in around London may vary depending on the kind of vehicle you’re driving, and when you’re operating your HGV. The London Lorry Control Scheme restricts HGVs weighing more than 18 tonnes from causing disruptions by entering certain roads during certain times, such as weekends and evenings. 

While some roads in London are accessible to HGVs at all times without any permission requirements, known as “Excluded Road Network” routes, others are subject to a number of specific rules. “Restricted routes” will require you to plan your journey around missing out as many restricted routes as possible, and using only “Excluded Road Network” routes whenever you can. 

While it is possible to request use of restricted routes for free, the London Transport network still expects drivers with permission to use these roads to avoid them when possible. If a driver uses a restricted road without permission, or fails to use fewer restrictive routes when they can, they may be subject to a penalty notice.

Congestion, Low Emission Zones

Perhaps unsurprisingly, congestion in London can be a major issue for many HGV drivers – causing more of a problem than it does in other parts of the UK. This means you’ll often need to plan additional time into your schedules to manage traffic. You may also need to plan for a larger number of congestion charges than you would in other locations. 

On top of congestion charges, there may also be charges and penalties to pay for driving in the lower emission zones throughout London. London is subject to both Low Emission, and Ultra Low emission zones. The Low Emission Zone covers most of Greater London, and you can find a map, along with information on potential charges here

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone plays even greater restrictions on London HGV drivers. However, it generally covers the areas within the Southern and Northern circular roads only – at least at the time of writing. If your vehicle doesn’t meet with the ULEZ standards for emissions, and you don’t have an approved exemption, you’ll need to pay a fee of £12.50 per day to enter the roads. 

Preparing for HGV Driving in London

Driving an HGV in London can be a fantastic experience, but it’s also worth noting that the capital city has a lot of distinctive restrictions and rules to be aware of. Here at the HGV Training Centre, we can answer all of your questions about driving in different parts of the UK, and ensure you’re fully prepared to tackle your new job in any region.

Contact the HGV Training Centre today to find a local training centre capable of giving you the guidance you need to launch your new career. 

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