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For some years there has been a shortage of HGV drivers.
Now, with the massive importation of cheap labour from abroad, it may not be so bad.

To those out of work, seeking a change, or leaving the services, HGV driving presents a most interesting option.
All you have to do is to take a HGV driving course and a test.
But is it worth it?

Many have optimistically scraped together the cost of the training course and tried it.
After this they may, or may not, have found work.
Getting that first job is not easy, in fact many will just give up.
And many of those who did obtain work, will have since left the job.
One MUST ask why.

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Years ago, driving articulated vehicles, for a living, was challenging and demanding.
The main skill requirements were the ability to load,(often handball), rope & sheet, change a wheel by oneself, and repair a broken injector pipe.
Then, transport managers were of a much higher quality than today's equivalent.

Today, intelligence, resourcefulness, and the ability to get the job done no matter what, are NOT required.
Indeed, displaying such qualities today will likely get drivers fired. If they weren't so short of drivers.

The Bad Side
Older, returning, Drivers may have problems with the treatment of today's Drivers.

The rules may give one the impression that they prefer non-thinking morons who will just follow those numerous rules.
In fact, these companies treat Drivers like criminals: Cab searches are common despite that the fact that cabs are now 'public places': The current Driver can be held responsible for anything left in the cab by previous Drivers.

Maybe this simple lack of civilised respect, for Drivers, contributes to the drift away from the industry?

One thing which stands out is the fact that companies do NOT give Drivers a written undertaking that vehicles they are asked to drive will be safe, legal and not overloaded.

With everything now on computer, it is easy to see the weight of a load, and maintenance dates, etc.

It is also apparent that those in charge of transport know very little about transport.
This evidenced by the incredibly stupid gimmickry that truck manufacturers can sell these people.

The Tacho card
is about as much use to a Driver, as a broken arm and a dose of syphilis.
It records everything. Real '1984' stuff. And it goes too far.
The print out is a total waste of time. It does not tell you how much driving you have done.
It does contain loads of useless info; like every time you stop in traffic.

It would be so easy, to build into time recording devices, something which tells a Driver what he needs to know.
Like how long he has been driving.

But many drivers do stay.
There is something about life on the road that appeals to us and gets into the blood.
Anyway, being aware of the little problems one might face, better equips one to make a go of HGV Driving.
The Good? Side
With a bit of experience, there are permanent jobs available paying up to c £29,000.
The industry is also dependant on agency drivers.
This suits many as a driver can choose the days, hours worked, the type of work, etc.
Rates vary with location/demand and start time, (i.e.: nights pay more).
Overall one may see a range from £8 to £15 per hour.

What is the difference between HGV and LGV?
None. But you are supposed to use LGV.
HGV = HEAVY Goods Vehicle, (the older British term).
LGV = LARGE Goods Vehicle, (the later EU term).
Commercial vehicles are regulated by weight not size.
HGV is the more popular and widely used term.

HGV I refers to articulated outfits.
HGV 2 are rigid lorries.
These are limited to 56 mph.
The smaller, 7.5 tonne vehicles can go much faster.
These are easily recognised as they have smaller wheels.

First Things.

The main problem is that the industry can’t retain Drivers.
The hours are often long. So what’s new there?
Roads are busier. With stacks of hold-ups and delays: Frustrating but who cares when you’re getting paid?
Whatever the problems, for many it is often the only route back to work.
As an older, returning HGV Driver, however, one may get the feeling of working under a Dictatorship.
All the rules and regulations have been dictated to UK HGV Drivers: They have had no say it.
Be prepared for reams of stupid bureaucracy. And Speed Cameras.

Young Drivers may be better suited to the job nowadays than older Drivers.
The younger Driver may be more familiar with EU stuff, metric measurement, kph, etc.
The main problem, however, is that new HGV drivers are not properly trained and prepared for reversing in the real world. With tight bays and limited manoeuvring room.
If they are lucky, they will receive the assistance of older Drivers who recognise the problem.
If they are unlucky, they can suffer bad experiences during the learning process.

More opportunities for new Drivers to go out with older Drivers, for a week or more, to learn the job, would help.

Reversing in the real world.

At the end of the day, it's just a matter of visualising the curve/line into the bay space and then just following it.
As with all things, one gets better with practice. Be aware, however, that getting that experience does take time.
Try to keep the unit and trailer as straight as possible, don't over correct, and don't be afraid to shunt a few times to get a nice straight position on the bay.

Being watched does not help.
But remember, those watching will have gone through the same leaning curve,
(a fact some of them may forget).

Reversing in to tight bays.

Don't try to turn into these bays.
The idea is to line the trailer up before it enters the gap between the adjacent trailers.
How bad can it get? - Worst Case Scenario
A certain small depot in Manchester, receiving night trunks from Bristol and a Scottish depot.
So little forward manoeuvring room that when one is finally on the bay, there is barely enough room for a lorry to pass between the front of your vehicle and the wall.
Here, artic’s have to back on the bays, in sequence, from the right.
Getting the right reversing curve is the main thing.
It may be better to pull out and try again, until its right. When you are on the bay, there is little room left to shunt.

Store deliveries can be similarly problematic. On top of limited manoeuvring room, there are pedestrians, traffic, etc.
Generally, however, there will be other drivers, who will have done the drop, many times, they will be helpful and offer constructive advice.
Some companies use shorter, single axle trailers for drops in tight situations.

Getting that first job seems to be a problem for some new Drivers.
Having got it, and not being familiar with things, they will make mistakes. And get shouted at.
Except by the older, and perhaps, wiser Drivers who may remember the mistakes that they made when new to the industry.

Some companies may offer training days at their regional distribution centres.
They may operate large fleets of distribution vehicles from these depots, and are usually short of Drivers.
This could be a route to work.
The downside of working for some of these companies is the bureaucracy.
But the training day may acquaint one with all this. And the little cab gizmos, etc.

Returning Drivers

If you have been out of driving for a long time, you will find that the job has changed a lot.
With loads of petty rules and regulations.
Nowhere are the affects of EU membership more apparent that at the front end, in transport, and to those returning after a long absence from the industry.
Don't go back to driving if you have been in management: What you see, and suffer, will drive you around the bend.

The longer you have been away from driving, the harder it will be!
There is the bureaucracy to learn. Things are more complicated now.
Plus the fact that many companies simply can't call a spade, 'a spade'.
Obviously, re-labeling makes things work better. Like 'go faster' stripes on cars.

And it's no small task, learning all the gadgets that are now in modern trucks.
What is badly needed, are truck familiarisation courses, perhaps run by manufacturers, and where drivers can be acquainted with all the gimmickry used by that manufacturer.
Please note: Since writing this Volvo have added a Driver's section, to their web site, to acquaint Drivers with cab equipment.

In any event, and if you still want to have a go..

First thing is to acquire an understanding of all the rules and regulations.
These tend to be very complicated.
And, as we know, the more complicated the system, the more chance of errors.

Getting used to the size of the vehicle is probably the easiest part.
As previously stated, the major problem, whether new or returning, is reversing.
Real reversing skills come with experience.
Returning Drivers will have lost much of their skill in this area.
If you are returning, hire a driving school outfit for a few hours.
And spend a lot of time on reversing with limited forward manoeuvring room.


As previously mentioned, and particularly noticeable to fleet vehicle Drivers, it is obvious that the people who buy the vehicles they have to drive are not drivers.
Some of the gimmickry in cabs now, whilst possibly OK for 'one man/one truck' jobs, is totally unsuitable for busy, fleet operations with units running up to 24 hours a day.
They may use a high number of agency drivers: These drivers may not be familiar with the gimmickry.

More automatics are coming into service.
These can be good for drivers who are driving them all the time, but bad for agency drivers who only drive them occasionally.
Acceleration can be very sluggish indeed, a real handicap on busy roundabouts, etc.
Reversing can be a pain for the less experienced, clutch control is poor, an 'all or nothing' thing, which can result in you hitting the bay with some force.

AVOID companies that use Day Cabs, (no bunk).
As used by parcel companies, etc.
There is no way you can get proper rest in these cabs if you are stuck somewhere for hours, or are on a forced night out due to things like floods.

The Death Toll

Young HGV Drivers are falling asleep, at the wheel, and killing themselves, every day.
They are far more susceptible to this than older Drivers.
Young Drivers are favoured by the smaller companies because they will work long and hard hours.
Young men may feel that if they can't do what is expected of them, or more, they are no good.
They will push it. Until they end up killing themselves.

Burning the candle at both ends..
Younger drivers should be aware that going out on the town, whatever, and not getting enough sleep before starting work, is another option to kill themselves. And, perhaps, others.
But we were all young once, and we know the pressures.
Driving when you are exhausted or unfit, can be hell. Avoid it at all costs.
Face up to the fact that you are NOT fit to drive, and call in sick.

Another danger...

In this modern climate of borrow, borrow, borrow, one could easily get into the trap of having to continually work long hours to pay all the resultant bills.
Possibly making one bad tempered and very tired.
Good Luck
(And please try to avoid driving when you are too tired.
Unless you have shares in an undertaking business.)

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