One of the biggest questions we get asked by aspiring HGV drivers is ‘what’s it really like?’ And we can’t blame them for asking. Most of them are completely new to the industry, and unlike office jobs, where it’s relatively easy to guess what the day to day job will be like, driving a HGV can seem like a completely alien world. So before you jump in, you probably want to get a better idea of what your life will be like on the job, what your average day looks like, and how it feels to be an HGV driver. That’s what we’re here to help you out with today.
Before you can become a HGV driver, you will need to go through some training. This training takes you through road safety, HGV safety, a health check and practical driving skills, as well as learning all about the ins and outs of driving HGVs for a living. We could go on for ages about what’s involved in HGV training, but we’ve covered that in many blogs previously, so we’d recommend you read those for a more in-depth idea!
Vehicle checks: Despite the fact that your HGV is being driven daily, you will still need to check it over before you do anything else. This means the start of your shift will be spent making sure everything is correct and safe before you set off. This includes checking the tyre pressure, checking for damage, ensuring all fluids are topped up, and making sure that no one has snuck into the HGV overnight. That might sound silly, but it is a very real problem, particularly when you’re on the road, which is why criminal activity checks are a critical part of your job as a HGV driver.
Loading: Once the vehicle has been checked, it’s time to load up. It’s a pretty consistent part of an HGV driver’s life, but exactly what it looks like will depend on the firm you work for. Many firms will want us you to load up the HGV with the goods yourself, while others will provide workers to help or do it themselves. To be able to do this you will receive extensive training in lifting heavy loads safely, as well as using any relevant machinery you may need.
Driving: The big part of your job is actually driving the HGV. Once it’s all checked and loaded, it’s time to get on the road! Now, you can be your own boss and control your own time, as long as you can make your delivery on time. So if you decide you’re hungry, you can stop at a burger van for some food. Take it a bit slower and enjoy the scenery. Take a break and catch some sleep if you’re getting tired. You can do a 9-hour shift, and 8 of those hours will be your own. You will need to meet the regulations about the number of hours you can drive in a 12 and 24 hour period, but that’s about the only restriction.
Unloading: And once you get to the other end, it’s time to unload! This is essentially just loading in reverse, helping the customer get their products placed where they want them in their warehouse. In some jobs you will do a ‘return delivery’, and so you will need to load up the HGV with another set of goods before you head home, and in others you won’t have a return delivery and that will be the end of things.
Of course, one of the biggest differences is going to be whether you choose to become a long-haul driver or a short haul. Short haul drivers tend to focus on smaller trips, which in HGV terms could mean anywhere else in the UK, while long-haul drivers tend to be more international, moving goods between countries.
Short-haul drivers will generally follow the pattern of an average day above, and while the working hours may be long or slightly unsociable, there is generally more time spend at home, or the ability to go home between shifts more easily. You’ll likely work a delivery per day, and your journeys may be cross-country sometimes, but they will be much shorter than a long-haul driver.
If you’re a long-haul driver, you’re likely to work fewer actual deliveries, but still be driving the same amount as a short-haul driver. Instead, you will need to have more knowledge of the boarder rules and international shipping, especially now that the Brexit rules have come into full effect. Long-haul drivers are always in high demand, so if you don’t mind spending a few days on the road at a time (with a few days off in between each job), then this could be a better option for you.
At The HGV Training Company, we specialise in helping aspiring HGV drivers take that first step on their new career journey. We provide comprehensive training service designed to not only guide you through the process of becoming a HGV driver, but to also prepare you for what that daily life would be like. If you would like to find out more, please just get in touch with the team today.
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