Do you like driving an HGV? If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as an HGV driver, now is a great time to do it. Because of the current shortage, HGV drivers are in high demand, and with rising salaries, becoming a lorry driver can be a very rewarding career.
To become a lorry driver, the first thing you need to do is to get qualified, regardless of whether you are driving the lorry in the UK or across Europe. However, there are some details you need to be aware of and we will dive into this further down the article.
How Much Does It Cost to Become an HGV Driver?
The average cost to become an HGV driver is about £3000 in the UK, which includes all the tests and the Driver CPC course.
But did you know there are now many ways to get trained for free? Because the driver shortage hit a crisis point in 2021 in the UK, the government has stepped up and now offered free training schemes. As a result, you can now have the chance to be trained to become an HGV driver without paying all the fees!
However, please do your research and make sure that the training course you are taking with the training company is fully funded by the Government.
Can I Learn HGV Training for Free?
Yes, you can! Meet the ‘HGV Skills Bootcamps’. You can visit the Gov.UK website to learn more, or read our guide to free HGV training in the UK here, which will give you a better understanding of how the free scheme works.
The Government-run HGV Skills Bootcamps are free and flexible. These intensive courses are designed to train drivers to be road-ready and obtain their HGV licence once they have passed the training course. Those who successfully complete the HGV courses are guaranteed a job interview with an employer.
Is Lorry Driving the Right Career for You?
Before we get into how to become a lorry driver, you should ask yourself a few questions to decide whether this is the right career for you.
Becoming a lorry driver may not be for everyone, as the driving job may involve working long hours as well as staying away from home for periods of time. So, ask yourself the following questions:
• Do you love driving?
• Are you reasonably healthy?
• Are you well organised?
• Are you safety conscious?
• Are you responsible?
• Can you cope with stress?
• Are you fine with staying away from home for lengths of time?
If you can answer the above positively and you think you are capable of managing your life on the open road and happy to be away for periods of time, a lorry driving career could be perfect for you.
The Basic Requirement
The following are the basic criteria that must be met before you can proceed. After you’ve acquired the basics, you can continue to the next level of training which help you prepare for the lorry driving test.
• Be 18 and over
• hold a full UK licence to drive a car
• Apply for a provisional lorry licence
HGV Medical examination
Driving a large vehicle on the road without being safety conscious can be dangerous. Other road users are very likely to suffer catastrophic consequences if a lorry is involved in an accident. This is where an HGV medical examination is required to ensure that you are healthy and can drive safely behind the wheel.
Your GP will be able to carry out the examination, and a D4 form must be completed by them in order to pass the medical check.
Driver CPC Course
To drive an HGV professionally, you will need to get your driver CPC qualification. Driver CPC is also known as the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence and was first introduced in 2008 for bus drivers. The driver CPC for HGV drivers was later introduced in 2009, this qualification is recognised across the UK and Europe.
There are 4 modules to the driver CPC test, to obtain your Driver CPC, you will need to pass each of these modules successfully. Please remember to bring your photocard licence, or paper licence and passport to all the tests or you will lose your test fee.
Module 1 – The Theory Test
The module 1 tests are very similar to your car theory test and you can book this test as soon as you have received your provisional licence. This module has 2 parts, part 1 is a multiple-choice examination with 100 questions and a given time of 1 hour 55 mins, you will need to get achieve a pass mark of 85%.
Part 2 is a hazard perception test; this test will involve watching video clips and identifying the hazards within the videos. Each hazard you identify will give you 5 marks and the pass mark is 65%.
To get the theory certification, you should take both part 1 and part 2 tests within the duration of 2 years. You can take a practice test at the government website here and watch a hazard perception video here.
Module 2 – Case studies
This test is a computer-based test that consists of 7 case studies, you will need to answer between 6 to 8 multiple choice questions on each case study. The test lasts 1 hour 15 mins, and you will need to get 40 out of 50 or more to pass the test.
You will need to pass this module 2 test to be able to book part 4 – the Practical Demonstration. If you fail this test, you will be given feedback and you can then re-book your test after 3 working days.
Module 3 – Driving Ability
The driving ability test gives you the opportunity to get behind the wheel and demonstrate your driving skills. However, you will need to have a module 1 certificate to be able to take this test. The test will take about 1 hour and 30 mins to complete and covers 3 parts.
Part 1 – Practical driving on the road including:
• Vehicle safety.
• Practical driving on the road.
• Using vehicle controls.
• Moving away at an angle uphill and downhill.
• Performing a controlled stop.
• Correct use of mirrors.
• Giving appropriate signals.
• Showing awareness and anticipation of other road users’ intentions.
• Managing progress and controlling vehicle speed.
• Dealing appropriately with hazards.
• Selecting a safe place to stop.
• 10 minutes of independent driving to assess overall ability to drive safely whilst making independent decisions.
Part 2 – off-road exercises
• S-shaped reversing into a bay.
• Uncoupling and recoupling a vehicle correctly if you are taking the test with a trailer.
• You will pass if you make fewer than 15 driving faults, but none must be serious or dangerous.
Part 3 – Vehicle Safety
• Vehicle safety questions.
If you failed you can book another test straight away, but you can only take the test again after 3 working days.
Module 4 – Practical Demonstration Test
You must pass module 2 before you can take the final module of the practical demonstration test. This test will involve the knowledge of the practical elements of being a lorry driver. You will need to achieve an 80% passing score.
The test comprises:
• Loading the lorry correctly and safely
• Preventing trafficking of illegal immigrants.
• Assessing the emergency situations
• Carry out a vehicle walk around and safety check
• Reducing physical risks to yourself and others.
• You can visit the Gov.UK website here for more details about the 5 topics from the Driver CPC syllabus.
If you fail you can book another test straight away, but you can only take the test again after 3 working days. If you pass all 4 modules, you will be sent a driver CPC card, it is also known as a driver qualification card (DQC). You must then carry the Driver CPC card with you while driving professionally.
After Your Driver’s CPC
The driver CPC is valid for 5 years, following which you must complete 35-hour Refresher Course every 5 years to remain fully qualified. The goal of this training is to keep lorry drivers’ competencies up to date on a regular basis, as driving an HGV on an open road can be dangerous if the driver is not safety conscious.
Being an HGV driver can be a safe and rewarding career, the haulage industry will always require drivers. If you keep up with your training and have no problems with your driver’s licence, we can say that you will never struggle to find work.
Becoming A European HGV Driver
Before you can drive professionally in Europe, you will need to drive in the UK for some time to gain experience. You will also need to get your skills up a bit.
Educate yourself on different road signs in other countries, get used to driving a left-hand drive HGV (you may occasionally drive a right-hand drive HGV depending on your assignments.), be able to drive on the correct side of the road as well as all the standards and practices on driving an HGV in a foreign country.
However, most haulage companies will give you further training before sending you for assignments. You will also need to prepare the required documents to enter a different country.
• A clean and full driving license
• Minimum of 6 months of driving experience
• Digital tachograph card
• A copy of your DVLA driver record
• A licence check code if required
• An international driving permit (IDP)
• Insurance documents – travel and vehicle insurance
• Your passport
• A visa (if required)
• Vehicle authorization forms from the owner of the vehicle
• Vehicle v5 form
• Registration for low emission zones in some country
• European health insurance card (EHIC)
• Credit cards
• And other documents that required in your assignments
Life On The Road As A European HGV Driver
As a long-haul HGV driver driving into the Europe continent with your assignments, you are expected to be on the road for a long time. You may also need to stay away from home for an extended period of time and be able to look after yourself well.
Your long journey assignments may require you to stop and take a rest at the truck stops as required by law, so planning your journey in advance is a must, this will give you a more relaxed and enjoyable work experience.
We have some great articles about HGV driving, you can see the tramping essentials article which you can click to read here – Must-Have Tramping Essentials For Long Haul HGV Drivers, and the best truck stops to rest in the UK here – 7 Best UK Truck Stops For HGV Drivers.
The Importance Role Of HGV Drivers
HGV drivers play an important role as key workers in the haulage industry for the last couple of years. HGV drivers kept the country moving during the Covid pandemic, thanks to all these hard-working drivers, our life can continue to be normal with all necessary supplies in the stores without any problems.
As you can see, it’s never been a better time to become an HGV driver than now, with rising salaries, always in demand, and never being out of work, what more can you ask for? Go ahead and start your training today and become the HGV driver tomorrow!
We hope you have enjoyed reading our article; if you have any questions or would like to find out more about our latest HGV jobs, please contact Optimum Driving Group on 01908 018072, our team is here to help you.