Of all the professional career paths you can follow, HGV driving is definitely one of the most misunderstood. One day you’re a hero, delivering essential supplies during a pandemic. The next, you’re unfairly criticised for your driving practices and use of the road. There are many misconceptions about HGV drivers, but the one indisputable fact is that they’re essential to the UK economy. Without them, society would grind to a halt. Indeed, the staggering shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers that the nation is seeing today is partly down to these misconceptions. Misinformation about working practices, salary and driver hours, as well as a perception that the job is somehow easy and for the low skilled, deters many from pursuing what is in fact an extremely fulfilling and rewarding career path.
Given the vital role HGV drivers play, we’d like to debunk some of the myths and misconceptions that surround HGV driving, in support of these unsung heroes of the road.
Here are our top 10 most common misconceptions about HGV drivers:
While it’s true that practically anyone can qualify to be an HGV driver, that doesn’t mean that anyone can be a good HGV driver. All you need to obtain your HGV licence is to be 18 years of age, hold a car driving licence and pass the full Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. But gaining the qualification is just the first step. Being an HGV driver is about so much more than driving. The job can encompass a wide range of tasks, including route planning, loading and unloading of goods and basic maintenance checks. Yes, this is an incredibly rewarding career. But it’s not for everyone. Those that excel have the right mental attitude, are hard-working and committed to doing a good job.
In a world where we strive for inclusivity, it’s a sad fact that truck driving is currently dominated by men. However, not all HGV drivers are men. According to Logistics UK, there are roughly 3,000 female HGV drivers on our roads today. This might only account for 1% of HGV drivers, but the numbers are rising. A push for diversity, and the need to fill driver vacancies, has resulted in a number of initiatives to entice women into the profession. So we expect to see this statistic reversed over the coming years.
This is completely untrue. According to industry statistics, HGV drivers earn an average annual salary of £32,500. New HGV drivers can expect a starting salary of up to £24,000. With experience and further training, this will only increase. Category C drivers can move on to the Category C+E entitlement, allowing them to drive articulated lorries and command far higher salaries. Drivers can also add specialist qualifications, such as HIAB crane training and the ADR licence, to drive hazardous loads. Indeed, experienced HGV drivers can command earnings of over £42,000 a year.
This is another common misconception that is simply not true. HGV drivers have to pass rigorous training in order to qualify. However, unlike a car licence which you hold for life, in order to remain qualified, HGV drivers must undergo regular training. This involves 35 hours of periodic driver training every 5 years, to ensure good driving practices are upheld and any new rules and regulations learnt. So these drivers are the best trained on the road, and the most tested. They also have regular drug and alcohol tests, so they’re also the most responsible. Even after adhering to these rules, drivers are also monitored via a black box. These tachographs monitor driver hours, speed and distance. This all ensures that HGV drivers in the UK are among the best trained, closely monitored and safest drivers in the world.
When we think of a lorry driver, all we see is a person sat in a cab, driving. But the job actually involves a wide range of duties. These include:
So being an HGV driver is about a lot more than sitting, driving a vehicle.
This ties in with misconceptions 1 and 5. Just qualifying as an HGV driver requires determination and application. Furthermore, once on the road, the job involves a lot more than excellent driving skills. It actually requires a wide-ranging skillset, including a responsible attitude, good customer service skills, and the ability to cope in stressful situations.
Although driver hours are strictly monitored via tachographs, it’s a job that requires a great deal of mental as well as physical effort. Staying alert, keeping the mind busy and coping with nights away from home can all place a strain on HGV drivers.
While it’s true that lorry drivers are three times more likely to be involved in road accidents, the majority of the time this is because of the actions of car drivers around them. Moving into a lorry’s blind spot, abrupt braking and sudden lane changes will all lead to potential collisions. But just because a lorry is involved, doesn’t mean the HGV driver caused the road accident.
This is a ridiculous assumption, but nonetheless one that persists. HGV drivers are cultured and knowledgeable. They travel all over the country and internationally, see and meet people from all cultures and nationalities. They see some amazing sights along the way, and have the opportunity to learn from podcasts and audio books, keeping their minds alert and constantly expanding their knowledge.
Yes, truckers do usually drive on their own, but this doesn’t mean that they’re loners. HGV drivers meet people constantly, they work with a wide range of people and constantly communicate with other drivers from their cabs. They’re also good Samaritans and will often be the first to stop to help other motorists in need.
Yes, some jobs will require national and international travel. But there are also regional and local jobs, allowing HGV drivers to be home every night. Even the jobs that require nights away from home are easier to bear now we have smartphones and tablets. Drivers can still see and talk to their loved ones, even from far away. Plus, if you do have a long-haul job that involves time away from the family, when you are at home you’re there for a few days. This gives you quality time and can mean more time spent with children than some 9 to 5’s.
As you can see, being a truck driver is a rewarding profession and despite these common misconceptions, it’s a great career choice. Whether you’re young and single, embarking on your first career, or looking for a career change later in life, it’s a fantastic option for all. Get in touch today to learn more about training to become an HGV driver. Here at HGV Driver Training Centre, we offer the highest standard of HGV training, across more than 90 locations in the UK and can even help you secure a position. Get in touch today and find out how we can help you achieve your ambitions to become an HGV driver.
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