You’ve just taken your HGV licence tests, and you’ve passed! Congratulations, you’re ready to go out into the world and become a professional HGV driver. Like any job, there will be a learning curve, and you will become better at it as time goes on. But just because you’re new at this, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t benefit from all the wisdom that’s come before you. So today, we wanted to share 5 top tips firs first time HGV drivers.
Proper and thorough planning is essential to your success as a HGV driver. While you might think the job is all about driving from point A to point B, in reality there are a lot of things that can go wrong, that can change last minute, or that can generally cause issues. But if you’ve taken the time to thoroughly plan for each and every journey, you are much less likely to be caught out. This means you need to look at your journey and not just seen an origin point and a destination – you need to take into account rest stops, refuelling, alternative routes in case you run into an accident or bad traffic, and any stops you need to make along the way. You can use apps to help you plan your journeys, so you never need to get caught out again.
Water is pretty essential to life, and your life as a HGV driver is no different. If you want to stay alert and safe throughout the day, you need to stay hydrated. It’s also important to remember that your body will only tell you you’re thirsty when you are already dehydrated – not before. So make sure you are drinking water little and often, keeping yourself hydrated. If you don’t, you might end up experiencing dizziness, tiredness and a lack of alertness – none of which are good things for a HGV driver. So grab yourself a refillable water bottle and keep it in your cab at all times.
There is nothing worse for a HGV driver than finding out your lorry is too tall for a bridge too late. There are plenty of videos out there of HGVs wedged in bridges, their roof mangled and their driver probably driver. You don’t want to be that driver. But when you’re driving a big vehicle, it can be difficult to judge the height while you’re inside it. An easy way around this is to find out the exact height of your HGV and write it on a post-it, which you then stick to your dashboard. This means you will always be able to check that your vehicle will fit before you drive though any gap.
You will be frequently reminded by your employer that you are required to take a certain amount of breaks each shift, and those breaks have to be a set length of time. Pay attention and make sure you take them. We know how tempting it can be to just ‘work through it’, particularly if you’re running late or on a tight deadline. But the problem is, without breaks you will get tired, suffer from fatigue and not be able to do your job properly. You will also be opening up yourself and your employer to legal action, since those breaks are actually legal requirements. So when its time for your break, make sure you do actually stop the vehicle and take a break. Walk around, stretch your legs and grab a cup of coffee. And if you start feeling drowsy at any point while driving, don’t hesitate to take a break.
As with everything in life, communication is key to being a HGV driver. Not only does keeping in touch with your team help stave off driver isolation, but it also makes your job much easier. At both you employer and your end client there will be a traffic team whose job it is to organise your trips, from what you transport and when you transport it, through to the route you take and your deadlines. If you hit snags or delays, these are the people who need to know. By establishing a good relationship with your traffic team, your job will be so much easier.
At The LGV Training Centre, we believe that you continue to learn all the way through your life by making mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from the mistakes of others too. That’s why our driver trainers are always happy to pass on their wisdom, tips and tricks on everything to do with driving a HGV professionally. To find out more, get in touch with the team today.