Essential Advice for Novice HGV Operators

Congratulations on passing your HGV Cat C licence tests! Now that you’re ready to embark on your journey as a professional HGV driver, it’s important to remember that there will be a learning process involved. With time and experience, you will improve in your role. However, as a newcomer, it’s essential to tap into the wisdom of those who have come before you. In this regard, we would like to provide you with five valuable tips specifically tailored for first-time HGV drivers.

Be Prepared

Thorough and meticulous preparation is vital for the success of HGV drivers. While the job may appear to be solely about transporting goods from one location to another, it is important to recognize the potential for unexpected complications and last-minute changes. By dedicating sufficient time to plan each journey comprehensively, the likelihood of being caught unprepared significantly decreases. This involves taking into consideration factors beyond the origin and destination points, such as rest stops, refuelling, alternative routes in case of accidents or heavy traffic, and any necessary stops along the way. Utilising apps can be beneficial in aiding journey planning, ensuring that you never find yourself in a predicament again.

Stay Hydrated

If you aspire to become a competent HGV driver, it is crucial to prioritise self-care. This doesn’t refer to self-defence, but rather taking steps to safeguard your health. Adequate hydration is essential for human survival, as dehydration can lead to various issues such as fatigue, lightheadedness, and decreased alertness. These consequences can be detrimental while operating a heavy goods vehicle. Therefore, it is advisable to invest in a large, reusable water bottle and keep it accessible in your cabin at all times. Remember to refill it as necessary and sip from it consistently throughout the day, even before you feel thirsty. Thirst is a late indication that your body is already dehydrated. Minimise the consumption of carbonated beverages and limit your coffee intake to no more than two cups, as excessive consumption of these can disrupt your sleep patterns and further dehydrate you.

Ensure the Vertical Clearance of Your Vehicle

One of the most common mistakes made by inexperienced HGV drivers is attempting to navigate their vehicle through narrow gaps that are not suitable for its size. This frequently occurs at bridges and has resulted in numerous photographs circulating on the internet, as well as frustrated community members who have to find alternative routes due to a blocked bridge caused by a misjudged HGV. It is the responsibility of HGV drivers to prioritise safety and avoid causing accidents or property damage, including public infrastructure. Therefore, it is crucial for drivers to be aware of the height and weight of their vehicles and make informed decisions accordingly. If there is any doubt about the suitability of a gap, it is best to avoid attempting to pass through it.

Take Breaks

Your employer will consistently remind you to take regular breaks during your shift, emphasising the importance of adhering to the designated break durations. It can be quite tempting to work straight through without taking breaks, especially when you’re under time constraints or facing tight deadlines. However, it is crucial to recognize that failing to take breaks will lead to fatigue, exhaustion, and an inability to perform your job effectively. Moreover, disregarding break requirements can expose both you and your employer to potential legal consequences. Therefore, when it’s time for your break, ensure that you actually stop working, take a moment to stretch your legs, go for a short walk, and perhaps even grab a cup of coffee for rejuvenation. Additionally, if you ever experience drowsiness while driving, do not hesitate to pull over and take a break.

Communication Is Key

Being a professional heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver can often feel isolating, which is why it is crucial to maintain regular communication with various parties. This includes staying in touch with the traffic office, your clients, and those responsible for coordinating your pickups and drop-offs. By investing time and effort in building strong relationships, you will find that your work runs much more smoothly. Simple actions like informing others if you anticipate being late and keeping your traffic officer informed about any potential issues can make a significant difference. Putting in a little extra effort in this area can yield substantial benefits.