Driving a heavy goods vehicle takes a lot of skill – not just the ability to control an over-sized vehicle, with often valuable or hazardous cargo onboard, but the mental strength to work alone for hours on end in an ever-changing environment.
So, what makes a great HGV driver? Here are the top qualities we look for when strengthening our 1500-strong driver pool.
It goes without saying, but every HGV driver needs a good driving record and the correct licence for the type of vehicle they're looking to drive.
As you’re behind the wheel for so many hours, you also need to enjoy driving to keep your motivation up. Not only that, you must be physically fit to spend long periods on the road – this includes good eyesight and colour vision.
EU rules limit the number of hours that you can be on the road continuously [link to low bridge blog] but, despite this, HGV drivers are still required to drive for lengthy periods, so maintaining concentration at all times is key. This is particularly so, given that drivers work in isolation for long stretches.
While the vast majority of a HGV driver’s time is spent alone in the cab, when you reach your destination you’ll often need to interact with customers when it comes to unloading the delivery.
Drivers are an important extension of that business, regardless of their employment status, so it’s essential to be polite, friendly and helpful, particularly if you need to deal with difficult conversations about product issues or delays.
A great HGV driver needs to have the right attitude when hitting the road – everything from calmness and tolerance of other drivers, to handling emergency situations, being aware of the surroundings and potential hazards, as well as an appetite to constantly learn and hone your driving skills.
To make sure you get from A to B on time, it’s important for you to plan your journey ahead of time and be aware of any potential hold-ups that might cause the delivery to be late. Added to that, you need to make sure your vehicle is up to scratch and ready for the journey.
Be one step ahead
There’s real skill in manoeuvring a heavy goods vehicle – steering, braking, changing gears and accelerating smoothly. But what differentiates a good driver from a great one is your ability to anticipate the actions of other road users and always be one step ahead.
It’s important that HGV drivers take a defensive approach to driving on the road. It’s all about anticipation – recognising and reacting to potential situations before they happen. This is not just for your own safety, but also other drivers.
This not only applies to your own ability as a driver – knowing the road, causes of potential accidents and your own physical wellbeing – but also the limits of your vehicle. Drive within them and don’t push the lorry beyond what it’s capable of.
While we don’t expect drivers to be fully-fledged mechanics, you’re often required to carry out routine maintenance, so a good mechanical or engineering skill-set is key to keeping your truck in good working order.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a great HGV driver, speak to us today about doing your CPC training and getting onboard at Challenge Group.