What’s it Like Being a Long-Distance HGV Driver?


With the shortage of HGV drivers being headline news for the last 1-2 years, there is a renewed interest in what it is actually like being an HGV driver and being on the road so frequently.  For many people, they may not have any experience of a job that involves being away for lengths of time and not being tied to an office or a desk.

As more and more people consider whether HGV driving is for them, it is useful to understand a bit more about the work involved, what an average day looks like for an HGV driver, and what skills are required.

HGV Driver Benefits

We can start with one of the main perks at the moment and that is that there is the abundance of work available.  The driver shortage means that there are plenty of vacancies out there for people wanting to enter, or re-enter, the profession. This also means that there is a lot of job security for HGV drivers as the demand is unlikely to go down anytime soon. 

The role offers great variety, and no two days are the same.  For those wanting autonomy and freedom from the office, HGV driving facilitates travel and freedom. 

In addition to this, many drivers are able to work flexibly outside of the standard 9-5 working conditions of office workers.  Often, HGV drivers can choose the hours they work to fit in around their own lifestyle and commitments.

Skills Required:

  • Excellent driving skills
  • Patience
  • Safe driving
  • Reliability
  • Remaining calm
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Working under pressure
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Knowledge of the safety requirements  

The role offers HGV drivers variety.  You can work for yourself or for a company, and both facilitate both personal and professional development. 

Whilst working as an HGV driver you will get the opportunity to travel to places you may never otherwise visit.  Another key benefit for HGV drivers is that you will be free from micromanagement (as long as you are doing your job satisfactory!)  As you are on the road most of the time, you will not have the pressure of colleagues or managers standing over you, questioning your working methods or your choice of radio station!

HGV Driver Pay

The exposure relating to the shortfall of drivers has had a knock-on effect on the pay being offered to HGV drivers.  Many haulage firms and logistics operations have increased the pay for drivers in a bid to attract more people to the industry.  This means the potential to earn good money is there. Major companies such as John Lewis have even offered signing on bonuses to attract new HGV drivers!

For freelance drivers, this means that they can increase their earnings via increasing their hourly/daily rate without being tied to a salaried contract.

HGV Training

Of course, the starting point for anyone wanting to become an HGV driver is ensuring that you undertake all the relevant training required and obtain your HGV licence.  The training element is not usually a long period and can be done in anything from 5 days to a few weeks. The waiting list is long however, so we encourage you to apply as soon as you have decided.

The training courses will teach you everything you need to know from how to drive safely, to carrying out daily vehicle checks and HGV safety.

Freelance or Working in a Company

As an HGV driver, you can be self-employed or you can work for a company.  Both sets of circumstances have their pros and cons and it all depends on what your needs are. 

Some drivers prefer to have the structure and regularity that comes with working for a company with a guaranteed monthly income. Other HGV drivers prefer to work as freelance drivers, picking and choosing what they want to do, and when they want to do it.

Typical Working Day

An average day for an HGV driver will start by checking your diary to see what is required of you and then doing the all-important vehicle check.  These vehicle checks need to be done daily, and they ensure that the vehicle is safe and secure.  You will be required to carry out a comprehensive check of the vehicle.

Once the vehicle has been checked, you will need to load it up. You may need to use specialist equipment for loading or have some assistance, but you will be involved in the loading in some way and there may be paperwork for you to check during the loading process.

Once the checks have been done and the vehicle is loaded up, you will be on your way driving.  You need to be aware of all the rules relating to the hours you can drive and the rest breaks you must take.  You can plan your route, decide on your breaks and then off you go.

When you have reached your destination, you will be involved in the unloading.  It is important that the goods reach their destination on time, and in good condition.  You may be asked by the customer to facilitate the unloading in a specific area and there may be some paperwork to complete. 

Unless you are required to load the vehicle again for a return delivery, once the unloading takes place you are free to leave and head back.

Distance

It is up to you whether you want to be a long-haul or short-haul driver.  Long-haul drivers tend to drive for longer distances, and this can include international travel. For those wanting short-haul driving you may be required to drive locally or undertake short trips within the UK.  There is always demand for short-haul and long-haul drivers and once you have built up experience as a short-haul HGV driver it is not difficult to move on to long-haul opportunities if that is what you want.

HGV Insurance

Heavy goods vehicles need comprehensive insurance to ensure the vehicle is protected alongside the goods carried by the vehicle. Depending on the business you work for, you may need a non-standard and bespoke insurance policy.

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.