If you love driving and are keen for a life on the road then choosing to become a lorry driver can be a fantastic career choice. As with any driving career, there are certain steps that need to be taken before you can embark on your HGV driving endeavours.
This guide will provide all the information you need on becoming a lorry driver including the different types of licences, the HGV theory and practical tests and whether your circumstances mean you will require truck insurance.
What licence do I need to drive a lorry?The licence you require to drive a lorry or other HGV depends on the type of vehicle you want to drive. Different sized vehicles require different licences due to specifications like size and weight. The following licences are the main HGV licences that you can choose from:
- Cat C1: Allows you to drive the smallest type of vehicle, weighing between 3500kg and 7500kg, with the choice of adding a trailer that weighs up to 750kg.
- Cat C1+E: Same as above, but this time with a trailer weighing more than 750kg.
- Cat C: Allows you to drive larger vehicles weighing over 3500kg, pulling a trailer weighing up to 750kg.
- Cat C+E: Allows you to drive larger vehicles weighing over 3500kg, plus a trailer that can weigh more than 750kg.
HGV testsTo become an HGV driver you need to be over 18 years of age and hold a full UK car driving licence. This is the minimum requirement necessary to take the HGV tests. These tests consist of three sections – theory, medical and practical.
HGV Theory testLike a standard UK theory test, the HGV theory test takes place in the form of multiple-choice questions and an HGV hazard perception test. You will take the theory in an official test centre – these are located all around Britain. The 100 multiple choice questions cover the basics of safely driving a large vehicle. A pass requires 85 of the 100 questions to be correct. The HGV hazard perception test includes visual and written parts. You will watch 19 videos and within these are 20 potential hazards that you must identify and know how to avoid. The videos are now presented with a further 100 multiple choice questions. You will need to get 67 correct in order to pass. If this sounds intense, you can choose to book the sections on different days. However, you must pass both sections within two years of each other. You must also have already passed your HGV theory in order to take the practical skills training. Please note: HGV theory tests differ depending on which licence you’re training for. For example, a C1 theory test will be slightly different to a C+E. It’s important to take note when practicing and doing your GV mock theory test that you’re practicing the correct test.
D4 Medical FormEach candidate wanting an HGV licence must pass a medical exam which comes as part of the application process to become a lorry driver. This is simply to make sure that you don’t have any conditions that could prevent you from driving safely. You will need to go to your GP for a medical examination. They will fill out a D4 medical form with your results and send it to the DVLA who will then make the decision on whether you are fit to drive. The first part of an HGV medical test is a discussion between yourself and your doctor, discussing any past medical conditions that may interfere with driving. The second part is a physical examination that tests aspects like your vision and vital signs. HGV medical tests may incur a cost; this depends on your GP and whether they charge for the time. It is wise to check before you make an appointment, so you aren’t caught out unexpectedly.
HGV Practical test and trainingOnce your theory and medical tests are passed and approved, it’s time for the practical training! For many, it’s their first time behind the wheels of a large vehicle and this can be a daunting prospect. However, an experienced instructor will be there to provide support and advice for the best chance of passing your HGV driving test. If you’re learning to drive an HGV, you are likely either learning with a company you want to work for or an independent training centre. Both will allow you to practice behind the wheel of the size of vehicle you’re getting a licence for. The training includes:
- General driving – This allows you to become more comfortable being in control of a vehicle of such size, and means you can practice driving on different terrain at various points of the day
- Manoeuvres and parking – You will have to learn how to manoeuvre your lorry and judge when a space is too tight. Like regular car driving lessons, you will practice different manoeuvres to suit many situations
- Vehicle safety questions – You will have to know your vehicle well, so your instructor will make sure you’re clued up on important safety checks, such as checking for air leaks and ensuring all doors are secure
HGV CPC trainingIn some cases, Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) isn’t included in your HGV licence, so you may have to take this separately in order to drive professionally. Driver CPC is a set of standards that need to be met in order to drive certain vehicles as a profession. Once passed, a refresher course of 35 hours every five years is required to be able to stay on the road.
So what makes a good truck driver?Now that you are equipped with the know-how on how to become an HGV driver, the only thing remaining is to ask yourself whether you’re up to the job. If you have the following traits:
- A love of driving
- Extremely safety orientated
- Independent and comfortable being alone for sometimes long periods of time
- Being fit and healthy
- Are a people person