Large Goods Vehicle Driver

HGV LorriesThe Job and What's Involved

Large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers distribute millions of tonnes of goods around the UK, as well as to and from the Continent.

LGVs carry a wide variety of cargo. For example, they may:

  • Take materials or equipment to or from factories, suppliers or construction sites.
  • Carry livestock from farms.
  • Deliver clothing or food to retailers.
  • Transport hazardous or dangerous loads, such as fuel or chemicals.

An LGV driver:

  • Plans their delivery schedule with transport managers - adapting en route if there is congestion or an accident.
  • Checks that the lorry is safely and securely loaded.
  • May take part in loading and unloading.
  • Has to stick to the driving regulations that apply to their particular lorry and load, including speed and load limits.
  • Remains security aware as goods often have high value.
  • Takes the required rest breaks during journeys - a machine in the vehicle, called a tachograph, records the number of hours spent driving and resting, the speed of the vehicle and the distance travelled.
  • Checks that the lorry is safely unloaded and the right delivery paperwork is completed.
  • May have to clean out or refuel the lorry during a long journey, after delivery, or at the end of a shift.
  • Is aware of the different road regulations and laws if driving abroad.
  • Allows Customs & Excise officers to check their goods and paperwork on arrival or departure from the UK.

Collection and delivery times affect driver hours. They are also restricted to a legal maximum of 60 hours per week, and an average of 48 hours. Night work will usually not exceed 10 hours in each 24-hour period, unless agreed otherwise.

The majority of a driver's time is spent alone in the lorry cab, even eating and sleeping there. Modern lorry cabs are usually comfortable, quiet, and may have air-conditioning and heating. Some have sleeping bunks, fridges and even cookers.

Physical demands on drivers vary, with some only opening the doors of the trailer for loading or unloading by specialist staff and equipment, while others help load and unload.

Starting salaries for newly-qualified drivers may be around £18,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 600,000 LGV drivers in the UK. The industry is expanding and there is currently a shortage of qualified drivers.

Some drivers are self-employed, driving their own lorry. Others work for a manufacturer, major retailer or distributor with a fleet of vehicles. Some work for road haulage firms that move loads on behalf of other companies.

Vacancies are usually advertised in local and regional newspapers, and can also be found on the website, www.careersinlogistics.co.uk.

Education and Training

At present, no specific qualifications are needed to become an LGV driver. Employers may prefer candidates with some GCSE's/S grades (A-E/1-5), especially in English and maths.

The LGV licence is divided into two categories:

A category C licence is required to drive a rigid tuck over 3.5 tonnes up to 32 tonnes.

Category C1 is restricted up to 7.5 tonnes.

Category C + E is required to drive any LGV vehicle usually up to the legal maximum weight of 44 tonnes (including articulated lorries, additional trailers or drawbar combinations).

Drivers must:

  • Have a clean driving record.
  • Normally be over 21.
  • Hold an LGV licence category C1, C or C + E.
  • Pass a medical examination.

Under new EU laws, from September 2009 all new LGV drivers will also have to train for a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) at the same time as their LGV licence.

Younger entrants may be able to join the Young LGV Driver Training Scheme, managed by Skills for Logistics. It is open to candidates aged between 16 and 21, and offers a fast-track route to a full LGV licence and an NVQ/SVQ at Level 2. It allows some individuals to get a licence at 18.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

LGV training courses last from one to three weeks. They cover driving skills, basic mechanics, and loading and securing loads.

NVQ's/SVQ's are available in Driving Goods Vehicles at
Levels 2 and 3.

LGV drivers who drive vehicles carrying dangerous goods are legally required to hold an Advisory Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) certificate. Initial training takes five days, and certificates need to be renewed with a three-day refresher course after five years.

From September 2009, all existing LGV drivers will have to do 35 hours of training every five years as part of the Driver CPC regulations.

Drivers can also train for the Operator's Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), which is designed to show that the individual has attained a set level of knowledge in the major areas of their profession. This qualification may support driver progression into management roles, and enable them to own and operate their own vehicles.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

LGV drivers need:

  • Safe and fuel-efficient driving skills.
  • Knowledge of driving laws.
  • The ability to concentrate and stay alert over long periods.
  • Health and safety awareness.
  • Good eyesight and normal colour vision.
  • To be security conscious.
  • To be able to work with minimal supervision.
  • A polite manner with suppliers and customers.
  • To be able to complete record sheets and paperwork accurately.

Your Long Term Prospects

Career progression to supervisory positions is possible, including in distribution or haulage management, transport and logistics planning, LGV instruction, or a specialised area of driving, such as hazardous goods.

Drivers achieving an Operator's CPC may be able to start their own company.

Get Further Information

Driving Standards Agency (DSA), Stanley House,
56 Talbot Street, Nottingham NG1 5GU
Tel: 0115 901 2500
Website: www.dsa.gov.uk

Freight Transport Association (FTA),
Hermes House, St John's Road,
Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9UZ
Tel: 0871 711 2222
Website: www.fta.co.uk

Skills for Logistics,
14 Warren Yard, Warren Farm Office Village,
Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360
Websites: www.skillsforlogistics.org
and www.careersinlogistics.co.uk

Truck Locator,
100 Bridge Street, Peterborough,
Cambridgeshire PE1 1DY
Tel: 01733 566933
Websites: www.trucklocator.co.ukg
and a Guide to Becoming a Truck Driver

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