When you’re first looking to become a HGV driver, you might be a bit confused about what to expect. After all, most people can imagine what your average office job will be like, but trying to figure out how being a HGV driver will impact your like is something else entirely. And before you jump into the training with both feet, you probably want to get a better idea of what life will be like on the job, what your average day looks like, and how being a HGV driver will change your life. That’s what we’re here to talk about today, and hopefully give you a bit of insight into hat it’s really like being a HGV driver.
Before you can set food into a HGV, you need to know how to drive one. So the first step on your journey will be training. HGV training can take anywhere from 5 days to a few weeks, and covers every single aspect of driving HGVs professionally – from the theory and HGV safety, to practical driving skills. It will also include a health check, so we know you’re in tip top shape. You will need to redo some of this training every 5 years, on top of any license upgrades you decide to do, so while not part of your everyday life, training will become a part of your world.
Vehicle checks: Before you do anything for the day, you’ll need to check your HGV. Even if you drove it yesterday, you will still need to perform these checks as the first task of the day to make sure everything is safe and secure. 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. Criminal checks might sound excessive, but it’s a very real problem particularly for long haul drivers, who have found human or drug trafficking to be an issue in the past.
Loading: Once the vehicle has been checked over, it’s time to load up. This again is a pretty consistent part of your job as a HGV driver, and most firms will expect you to be responsible for loading up your trailer. Don’t worry – you’ll receive extensive training on how to lift without injuring yourself, as well as training on any specialist loading equipment you might need.
Driving: And then it’s the main event – driving! Once your HGV is checked and loaded, it’s time to hit the road. This is the best part of the job for many drivers. It’s the time they can be their own boss and control their own schedule. As long as you meet your drive time limits (so they take breaks at the right time), and you deliver on time, you can choose when to eat, sleep and rest, what route to take, and what speed to drive. You can do a 9-hour shift, and 8 of those hours will be your own, alone behind the wheel.
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.
Within the HGV industry there is still a choice of career type, and that’s whether you’re going to be a short-haul driver or a long-haul driver. In basic terms, short-haul drivers focus on shorter trips within the country, while long-haul drivers will drive long journeys on international deliveries.
If you’re a short-haul driver, your average day will generally follow the pattern we described above. The working hours might be long, or slightly unsociable, since HGV driving is never a 9-5 job, but deliveries will generally stay within the UK, and you’ll likely end up working 1 delivery per shift. And while you might end up driving cross-country sometimes, you’ll be on much shorter trips than long-haul drivers.
Long-haul drivers are responsible for shipping goods across multiple countries, and so their lives look a little different. They can be away from home and on the road for long periods of time, passing through different countries to get to your destination. So while you might drive the same length hours as short-haul drivers (since you are limited on hours you can drive), but you won’t be able to go home in-between. You will also need a different kind of knowledge, specifically around international shipping (which is even more important now that the Brexit rules have come into force). 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 LGV Training Company, our job is to help give you the best start possible on your journey to becoming a HGV driver. We provide comprehensive training services designed to provide you with all the information you need to start your HGV career. But we also see it as our job to prepare you for what that daily life would be like. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with us today