With demand for trained HGV drivers on the rise, there’s never been a better time to earn your certification and start looking for a new career. Currently, there’s a significant shortage of HGV drivers on the roads of the UK, with 15% fewer nationals working in this industry than in 2020. If you have a passion for driving, and you’re willing to hone your skills behind the wheel of a larger vehicle, there could be endless opportunities ahead for you.
A successful career as an HGV driver starts with making sure you invest in the right certifications, so you’re safe behind the wheel of a larger vehicle. However, once you’ve gained your certification, there are also a number of steps you can take to make yourself more attractive to future employers.
Here are some of the steps you can follow to be a better HGV driver in 2022.
Step 1: Assess Your Vehicle Before Each Journey
Even if your employer has specialist technicians on-hand to assess the state of your vehicle before it’s assigned to you, it’s important to do some checks yourself. Your employer will likely have a set of guidelines to follow in determining whether an HGV is suitable to drive or not. Checking over these points before you get behind the wheel should give you some essential piece of mind.
Taking the time to check all the different components of your vehicle are working and connected correctly also means you’re less likely to end up with a problem mid-way through your journey. All it takes is a couple of minutes to check over your vehicle for any potential hazards, examine the tires, and ensure you have enough fuel for your journey.
Step 2: Prepare for the Journey Ahead
Driving a lorry or HGV is very different to driving your standard car. It’s not enough to simply jump behind the wheel and put your foot on the gas pedal. You need to make sure you’re prepared for the road ahead. Some aspects of preparation are simple. For instance, you should make sure you get a good night’s sleep before you start the journey and take water to keep you hydrated on the road.
Other preparation strategies require a little more investigation. For instance, you may want to look into the route you’re going to be driving before you start your journey. Checking the route in advance should ensure you’re aware of any specific road issues you might face before you get behind the wheel. If you know certain roads are closed or have specific height restrictions, for instance, you can plan to take a different route.
Step 3: Look After Yourself
Looking after your vehicle is important as an HGV driver. You need to drive cautiously, and double check everything is exactly as it should be before you ever get on the road. However, it’s equally important to make sure you’re looking after yourself. No matter how comfortable you feel in the driver’s seat, it’s crucial to ensure you’re putting time aside to take regular refuel and refreshment breaks during your journeys.
Making sure you get out of your vehicle from time to time so you can exercise and go to the bathroom will stop you from losing focus when you’re on the road. You may need to take overnight breaks in some cases if you’re driving a long-haul shipment. Taking some time out every so often will also give you a chance to check on your load, and make sure nothing has shifted during transit.
Step 4: Understand Your Vehicle
Proper training for your HGV certification will help you to avoid certain misconceptions some drivers have about what it’s like to operate a lorry. However, it’s worth noting that all vehicles are different, with their own quirks to understand. Before you begin any journey, make sure you understand exactly what’s going on behind the wheel of the vehicle you’re going to be using. Find out where all the buttons and levers are you’re going to need to stay comfortable and efficient on the road.
It’s also important to double-check things like the height and length of your HGV. If you’re used to driving one particular kind of lorry, and you suddenly switch to another option, you might end up making some mistakes when calculating whether it’s safe to travel under a bridge or go around a tight corner. Make sure you’re aware of all the details of your lorry so you can make more intelligent decisions during your journey.
Step 5: Keep an Eye on Things
No matter how long you’ve been an HGV driver, it’s important not to get too complacent behind the wheel. Ultimately, the most important thing you can be as a successful driver is mindful. You need to be constantly aware of what’s going on around you, and what’s happening with your load, so you can avoid making any major mistakes.
Keep an eye on your tail swing, and remember the structure, size, and weight of the vehicle will make it difficult to maneuver around various corners and bends. Over time, you will become more effective at calculating whether you can get around bends correctly but be extra cautious to begin with. Remember to keep an eye on the way your payload is secured in the back of the vehicle as well. If items start to shift around this can cause damage and make it harder for you to drive.
Step 6: Stay Considerate
Finally, try to keep in mind how large your HGV vehicle can actually be. It’s not just you and your vehicle you need to watch out for when you’re on the road. You also have to be mindful of the fellow drivers who are going to be impacted by your driving habits.
Make sure you keep a close eye on the drivers around you and try to be aware of when they might want to overtake you. This will help to avoid any unnecessary issues as you continue your HGV journeys and should prevent angry drivers around your lorry.