Be the best! How to become the top HGV driver on the road in 5 easy steps


Backline HGV

You might have heard that there’s a shortage of drivers, but this doesn’t mean that the best jobs aren’t hotly contested.

 

The best jobs go to the best drivers. And being the best takes more than just being able to drive or deliver on time. It requires dedication, ambition and drive (excuse the pun!). In this article, we go through a few key steps to becoming the greatest HGV driver.

 

Becoming an HGV driver; the process

The first thing you need to do is actually get your HGV licence. Luckily this is a fairly straightforward process. And with the right support and training, you´ll be on the road and earning in no time.

 

#1 Medical test

The very first thing to do is to pass a medical exam. This is to determine whether or not you have any pre-existing conditions that might prevent you from being able to drive safely. 

 

A medical simply consists of a conversation with a doctor and a brief examination. Any qualified doctor can conduct this test and will need to fill in a DVLA form as part of the process.

 

Be careful, though, as some GPs charge over £100 – companies such as driversmedicals.com and d4drivers.uk charge £50-60 for exactly the same thing.

 

#2 Theory test

Next, you need to take and pass a theory test specific to HGV driving. Like learning to drive a car it takes the form of multiple-choice questions which you will need to answer on a screen in a test centre.

 

#3 Practical training

Once you’ve passed your theory the fun begins. It’s time to get behind the wheel and start training in real HGV vehicles with a certified DVSA instructor.

 

To have the best chance of passing you will want to ensure you select the very best driving schools and instructors. When you’re ready, you can take the practical test.

 

#4 Driver CPC training

The final step is passing your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. 

 

Unless you have “grandad rights” (passed your car test before 1997), you’ll need to do Initial CPC first – module 2 and module 4 and you cannot drive HGVs professionally without the CPC qualification, save for a few exceptions.

 

After obtaining your first Driver Qualification Card (DQC), you will need to undergo 35 hours of refresher training, called Periodic Training, every 5 years to stay qualified.

 

More information about becoming an HGV driver can be found over at our:

HGV Beginners Guide

 

5 Steps to be the best

Now we’ve got the details of how to become an HGV driver out of the way, can you hear a sound? Is that the sound of greatness calling you?

 

Let’s have a closer look at what you need to become the best of the best.

 

Self-sufficient and the ability to work independently

 

Part of the attraction that draws in many HGV drivers is the personal freedom that you get, especially if you’re covering long-distances.  

 

There’s no office gossip and overbearing work colleagues, and your boss isn’t just around the corner watching your every move – although with tracking software they might be doing it from the office! – and you will have no peeking over your shoulder to make sure you’re doing things right. But that also means minimum support or people to turn to when you have a question or encounter a problem.

 

If that sounds appealing, remember that you need to be a driven and self-reliant individual to constantly meet those tight deadlines. You also need to be comfortable spending long periods of time alone.

 

Mechanically Savvy

Whilst you don’t need to be a skilled mechanic, it definitely helps to have an interest and good working knowledge of how your vehicle works.

 

These skills are highly valued as, in a pinch, they can help you get back on the road faster than someone who is not mechanically aware.

 

Even more importantly, you may be able to do routine maintenance and even spot problems before they arise preventing issues that could be time consuming and costly.

 

Cool-headed

Not all road users are equally skilled and spending a large amount of time on the road means you’ll be sharing the road with drivers that do some pretty daft things. Really daft sometimes.

 

You need to be patient, calm and constantly alert. Expecting poor driving and not getting hot under the collar when it happens has to be second nature to you.

 

If you’re the sort of person that struggles to control their temper in traffic, this is possibly not the career for you.

 

Customer service skills

An often-underappreciated part of the job is dealing with customers and managing expectations.

 

Driving is more than just getting from A to B. You have to remember that there are real people at either end of the route, and they are relying on your delivery.

 

This can lead to strained relationships at times and you need to be at your best to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

 

A bit of charm, a warm smile and positive outlook on life go a long way to having great customer service skills.

 

So, whilst HGV driving might appeal to your lone wolf instincts, remember that you will still be expected to work well with others.

 

Good Time Management

This links back to our first point about being self-sufficient. Drivers are in charge of handling their deliveries and ensuring they get there on time.

 

What this means in practicality is that you need to have strong time management skills. If you are late then you could throw the whole supply chain out of kilter. This could reflect badly on your employer and they could end up losing business and money.

 

Luckily, you can learn time-management just like any other skill. One of the best books on this is:

 

Getting Things Done; The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.

 

You can download it as an audiobook and listen to it in your cabin. See, stress-free productivity in action!  

 

Final Words

Being the best requires effort, time and dedication to your work. It won’t happen overnight.

 

HGV driving isn’t for everyone, but many people thrive in this role and with ambition, rise up the ranks to secure high paying jobs in their desired niche.

 

We work with some of the best drivers in the business because we offer some of the very best pay and benefits out there. So, we know a thing or two about what it takes to be the best.

 

Do you think you have what it takes? Check out our platinum drivers’ scheme and find out.