How Much Do HGV Drivers Earn In The UK?


The recent shortages of groceries, fuel, building supplies, and products across the UK have highlighted the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK.  Prior to this, the National Careers Service estimated that the average salary per year for an HGV driver was in the region of £19,000 for starters and £39,000 for drivers with experience. 

However, these figures are not as accurate as they may have been last year. 

Historically, there has always been a range in the pay offered to drivers.  The rates of pay varied depending on the following factors:

  • Hours worked
  • Type of goods being transported
  • Distances of travel
  • Location of travel
  • Experience of driver

The Road Haulage Association has consistently warned of shortages in HGV drivers in the last few years, caused in part by the backlog of HGV driving tests due to the pandemic.  It was not until Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic happened that the full effect of the shortages was felt in the UK.  According to the Road Haulage Association, there is currently a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers, and these figures have been reinforced by government leaders including Keir Starmer. 

What is clear is that there is a significant shortage of drivers, and this has resulted in a spike in the wages being offered to HGV drivers who now find themselves in great demand. 

The government has spoken of plans to persuade those with HGV licences back to the profession alongside encouraging new drivers to train to become HGV drivers. The Road Haulage Association has reported that HGV driver wages are increasing at a faster rate than inflation so now is a good time to make the career move into HGV driving.

If you have ever considered becoming an HGV driver then here is some information you will want to know.

What is a Heavy Goods Vehicle Driver?

A HGV driver is someone who is trained to drive any lorry, truck, or articulated vehicle that weighs more than 3.5 tonnes.

How do I become a HGV driver?

You need to have a regular driving licence before you can consider becoming a HGV driver, and you must be over the age of 18.  This will then enable you to apply for a licence to drive a HGV.  From January 2022 the government has announced that you can go straight from a category B (regular car licence), to a category C and E (HGV licence).

You will have to sit the HGV theory and practical test and also have a medical test with a doctor to make sure you are fit and healthy enough to drive an HGV.

How much can a HGV driver earn?

As mentioned above, HGV starting salaries can vary depending on your hours and what you are transporting.  Due to the current shortage of HGV drivers at the moment, there are a variety of temporary driver roles available at the moment that are paid per hour. 

The pay rate per hour starts at about £10 per hour for trainees and van delivery drivers and goes much higher for HGV drivers.  Some active listings in recent weeks have seen hourly rates of £17.50 per hour and higher.

Wages are higher than they have ever been.  Waitrose is currently advertising for HGV drivers with a salary of up to £53,780 and many other supermarkets are also offering salaries around that level.  Both Tesco and Marks and Spencer have offered a £1,000 joining incentive for HGV drivers.

Medicals

As a HGV driver you need a medical D4 form that needs to be completed by a doctor when you take your first HGV test.  After this initial test, you will be required to have a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) test. Legally, you are required to be in reasonable health in order to operate a large commercial vehicle on public roads. 

The D4 form is submitted to the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency by the doctor who will carry out your medical.  Each time your licence is up for renewal you will have to have a new medical undertaken.

How can a HGV driver increase their wage?

As a HGV driver there will always be jobs to be filled and you will always find that there is no shortage of work.  This means that you can work additional hours to top up your wage.  Please note, however, that there are strict rules relating to how many hours you can drive per day.  Also, most HGV drivers do not drive the regular 9-5 hours, with many drivers driving through the day and night. 

Increasing your training so that you can transport different goods will certainly help you to earn the highest amount possible. 

Suppliers and logistics companies are currently desperate for drivers with experience and this means you can leverage your experience in the industry to command a better wage than normal.

How long will it take for me to become a HGV driver?

The practical training element only takes five days, but the overall training process takes longer as you need to have the HGV licence in order to start driving. The whole process can take between 8-10 weeks in total.

How many hours do HGV drivers work?

This depends on your role, but the maximum number of hours HGV drivers are allowed to work per week is 56.  The maximum fortnightly hours limit is 90 hours.  The maximum driving hours per day is 9 hours per day, but twice a week HGV drivers can drive for up to 10 hours.

These limits are in place to ensure that HGV drivers are not overworked, without concentration, and not driving whilst tired.  HGV drivers must also ensure that they take a 45 minute break every 4.5 hours driving. 

HGV drivers can split their 45 minute break into two as long as the first break is at least 15 minutes long and the second break is at least 30 minutes or more. 

HGV Insurance

Heavy goods vehicles need comprehensive insurance to ensure the vehicle is protected alongside the driver and the goods carried by the vehicle. Depending on the business you work for, you may need a non-standard and bespoke insurance policy.  As an employee, your insurance will be paid by the company you work for. 

ISIS Insurance offers a wide variety of insurance options and quotes that cover everything a HGV might need when it comes to insurance, from skip lorries to refrigerated vehicles.