If you fancy a life on the road, or if you’ve just dreamed of being a lorry driver since you were a kid, a career as a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver could be for you. HGV drivers employed by a haulage company get to travel all over the UK and Europe, and the pay isn’t to be sniffed at either. Newly qualified HGV drivers start at about £14,000, and experienced drivers can earn up to £35,000.
So, if you’re still interested in training as an HGV driver in the UK, here are a few of the things you need to know.
HGV or LGV?
HGV is, strictly speaking, an older term, as the newer and more official term is LGV, or Large Goods Vehicle. The two terms are used interchangeably, although most people in the UK haulage industry (myself included!) still prefer the term HGV. So don’t be confused by HGV and LGV – they mean exactly the same thing.
Requirements for HGV Driver Training
HGV licences for the largest vehicles are divided into two main classes, C and C+E. A class C HGV is any rigid vehicle that weighs over 7.5 tonnes, whereas a C+E license will allow you to drive a larger articulated vehicle with a trailer. You have to hold a class C license before you can train for your class C+E license, and you must have a standard UK driving license before you can train for either of these. There are some age restrictions, as you have to be at least 18 to train for a class C license and over 21 for the class C+E. You also have to undergo a medical examination, which will include an eye test, to make sure that you are in good enough health to become a lorry driver.
HGV Driver Training - Theory Test
The process of training as an HGV driver in the UK is just like learning to drive a car, in that there is both a practical and theory test. In the theory test, you’ll answer a series of multiple choice questions that test your knowledge of the legal and practical aspects of being an HGV driver. This is followed by a hazard perception test, where you will be shown a series of video clips and have to click a button when you spot a hazard. There is a maximum score of 75 for the HGV theory test, with a pass mark of 50.
HGV Driver Training - Practical Test
For the practical test, you will be assessed on your ability to drive an HGV vehicle in a variety of conditions. This will include a variety of turning and reverse manoeuvres in a confined space and a period of road driving. The entire test typically lasts 90 minutes. Once you’ve passed both the practical and the theory test, you’ll have your license and you’ll be ready to start work with a haulage company.
Cost of HGV Driver Training
The cost of training as an HGV driver varies. If you already work for a haulage company, they may be able to train you with their own staff at a reduced cost. Independent training at a number of HGV training centres typically costs around £1000, half-day and full day lessons available. An intensive course of four or five full days is usually enough to get someone ready for the practical test.
Additional HGV Driver Training
From September 2009, you will also have to take the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) in order to train as an HGV driver. This will be a three part test, with two sets of multiple choice questions and a set of case study questions.
If you want to drive an HGV that is transporting hazardous materials, you will need to have an Advisory Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) certificate, which is valid for five years after which you have to take a refresher course. The initial course takes 5 days, and the refresher course 3. This qualification also increases your earning power, as lorry drivers who transport dangerous goods can potentially earn higher wages.