When most people think of what a truck driver gets up to at work, they could be forgiven for thinking that there’s not a lot more to it than being sitting behind the wheel of a truck. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Although a large part of the job is clearly driving a lorry in a professional manner, there are many more elements to it than that. Find out the typical activities that an HGV driver carries out during the course of their day.
What’s It Like Being An HGV Driver?
Driving an HGV in the UK can be a very rewarding and varied job, but like many professions, there are different areas that you can work within.
Some drivers enjoy longer haul journeys often requiring staying away for the night before returning to base, whilst others prefer more locally based work with more drops per shift.
Some drivers also end up specialising in transporting specialist or even hazardous loads such as the tanker drivers or ADR tanker drivers for dangerous goods.
HGV Driver Daily Routine
There are certain core activities that most drivers will undertake on a daily basis other than the driving itself:
Before beginning their journey, an HGV driver must carry out a safety check of their vehicle, as it is the driver’s legal responsibility for vehicle safety whilst they are out on the road. A truck driver must walk around their vehicle before the journey starts and report any defects they find in writing.
The DVSA checklist must be ticked as part of the daily walk-around check, you can find more guidance here at the Gov.UK website. The HGV daily walk-around check includes checking the mirrors, washers, indicators, warning lights, fluid levels, tyres, coupling security, mudguards, and vehicle body condition.
Coupling And Uncoupling Trailers
Drivers or articulated vehicles (class 1 lorries) need to be proficient in the skill of coupling and uncoupling their trailers. Coupling a trailer is the act of attaching a trailer to the tractor unit (the truck itself), whilst uncoupling is the reverse.
HGV drivers need to be careful that this is carried out correctly, to make sure the trailer is securely attached, but also properly aligned, as failing to do so can be very unsafe.
If the trailer has not been properly coupled, the trailer could be ‘dropped’, a serious incident that will likely cause damage to the trailer itself and endanger fellow workers or other road users.
As well as ensuring a trailer is properly coupled, the load itself should be properly secured. If the driver does not do this himself, it is still their responsibility to ensure it has been carried out safely.
This may involve making sure that there is no loose freight in their vehicle which may move about and cause the HGV to swing about during transit, and that the load is also correctly balanced, with an equal distribution of weight from one side of a trailer to another.
Some HGVs have rigid sides, but some have flexible curtains to keep the elements out, and this must be affixed correctly to ensure safety and prevent theft.
The Drive Itself
There is more to driving involved in the journey itself for an HGV driver. They should understand the particular dangers associated with operating a large vehicle and being seated in a much higher position than other road users.
For example, a lorry driver might not be able to see a person who is standing directly in front of their vehicle from their elevated viewpoint, so must be aware of blind spots and take the necessary precautions.
There are also strict laws entrenched in HGV driving in Europe from the point of view of how much rest a driver must take, and when they are required to take a break by law.
They must always be prepared with the correct documentation to drive commercially; and must know how to record the various activities, including driving, that occur during their working day.
Commitment to Continued HGV Training
Once a lorry driver qualifies to drive an HGV, they must maintain their training throughout their career by law. They must engage in 35 hours of professional training every 5 years (known as a Certificate of Professional Competence) to be able to carry on driving commercially.
As you will see, truck driving is a skilled job that requires a high level of professionalism and awareness of safety.
As earnings have stagnated over the last decade, it is hardly surprising that the UK now faces a real truck driver shortage, as many people were put off investing the time and financial commitment required.
Fortunately, earnings have risen drastically in the last 18 months, and HGV driving has again become a much more rewarding career worthy of the dedication needed.
We hope you have enjoyed reading the article, to enquire about our latest HGV vacancies, please call us on 01604 761206 and our team is here to help.