HGVs are a familiar sight on the UK’s roads, in fact on the world’s roads. They’re so familiar that many people probably never give them a second thought (unless they’re stuck behind one). That’s actually a bit of a shame because logistics/HGV driving is an occupation that can be very rewarding (both in terms of personal satisfaction and in terms of remuneration).
If you’re interested in a career as a logistics or HGV driver, here are some important points you need to know.
These days you need to know regulations and road safety
HGVs, literally by definition, are heavy vehicles (even when they’re empty), which means they have the potential to cause an awful lot of damage. They are also big vehicles, which means that they are, quite bluntly, very cumbersome.
In other words, you can forget about your quick reactions getting you out of trouble they way they, possibly, might in a smaller, lighter, more agile vehicle (although even then, you don’t want to have to rely on them).
You have to be able to focus for long periods and keep calm under pressure
Picking up from the above point, HGV driving is largely about a combination of preparation, focus, and calmness. Your preparation is everything you do before you go out on the road, whether that’s learning the rules of the road and basic mechanics or making sure you have everything you need for that specific trip before you leave.
Focus is all about keeping not just your eyes but your mind on the road ahead and working to anticipate any issues you may encounter so that you can avoid them easily because, as previously mentioned, you will really struggle to take quick, evasive action.
Last but no means least, you need the ability to keep your cool under pressure, whether that’s from a customer who needs his order yesterday even though it’s not due until tomorrow, to challenging road conditions or technical difficulties.
“People skills” are definitely very helpful but you also need to be happy in your own company
HGV driving is a job where you alternate between dealing with people, sometimes a lot of people, to spending long periods in your own company. This can actually be one of the most challenging aspects of the job.
If you’re a “people person”, then you might find it isolating to be alone in your cab for hours on end. You might get around this issue by listening to audiobooks or the radio, but these would have to be kept at “background noise” levels so they don’t distract you from keeping your attention on the road.
Similarly, if you’re the sort of person who prefers your own company, then you might find some aspects of HGV driving a bit overwhelming, at least at first, there can be a lot of people involved in loading and unloading vehicles (and also in maintaining them).
Dealing with all these people might not come naturally to you, but the good news is that it’s a skill that can be learned if you’re prepared to put in the effort.
Alan is the operations director of Nottingham Driving School, who specializes in providing a variety of driver training courses for HGV and LGV.