5 Tips for New Heavy Haulage Truck Drivers
If asked to describe the average truck driver, most people would probably picture a male in their 40’s or 50’s, with a rugged appearance. Possibly grasping a thermos flask in one hand, and a sausage, bacon and egg sandwich in the other. This might have been a pretty accurate assumption a few years ago, but in recent years the demographic has changed quite a bit. The haulage industry is now attracting a significant number of younger drivers, and more ladies are choosing careers as heavy haulage truck drivers than ever before.
The best truck drivers all share the same core attributes. They understand that the rules of the road exist for a reason, and they respect those rules. They have the ability to focus, and commit themselves entirely to the task at hand. They also have excellent reflexes, and are able to react to the actions of other road users.
Heavy haulage is not always an easy job, the hours are often anti-social, and you may need to be spend nights in your cab. That said, there are upsides to the job too. You get to enjoy the beautiful countryside from a great vantage point, and you don’t have a manager breathing down your neck all day.
If you are considering a career as a heavy haulage truck driver, or have just passed your HGV training, check out these 5 top tips:
1. Height Restrictions Affect You!
If you have driven a car or motorbike on UK roads before acquiring your HGV license, you have probably developed the mental ability to filter out height restriction signs because you know they don’t really apply to you. Now that you are a HGV driver, you will have to retrain your brain. There are a lot of low bridges in the UK, take them into account when planning routes and stay vigilant. Height restrictions are absolute, not precautionary. Never assume you can “squeeze through” because you are only an inch over!
2. Respect Health and Safety Rules
Many truck drivers seem to view health and safety rules with a degree of contempt, believing that the rules they enforce are only there to make the job more complicated. The fact is that health and safety officers are only there to protect your wellbeing, and the people you come into contact with throughout your daily activities as a driver.
3. Rest Breaks & Tacho Rules
HGV drivers cannot drive for more than 9 hours per day (although this can be exceeded by 1 hour twice per week). You must take at least 11 hours rest each day, which can be reduced to 9 hours 3 times in any week shift. You are required to take a 45 minute break after every four hours and thirty minutes spent driving.
Total hours spent behind the wheel cannot exceed 56 hours per week, or 90 hours in consecutive weeks. You must take a consecutive 45 hour rest period each week, which can be reduced to 24 hours every alternate week. Weekly breaks must be take after working 6 consecutive days.If you have a schedule to keep, tacho breaks can sometimes be frustrating but remember they exist to save lives. Driving whilst tired causes accidents, so don’t be tempted to break the rules.
4. Go Hands-free
Whilst using a mobile phone behind the wheel is illegal, you can still make and receive calls whilst driving if you have a hands free kit. Long haul driving can get pretty lonely so it’s great to be able to call your friends or family.
5. Try to Avoid Junk Food
Roadside cafes are often convenient, but eating fried breakfasts every day of the week is not good for your long term health. Try to stay fit by exercising in your spare time, and take home cooked lunches to work with you when possible. Not only will this save you money, it will also help you to eat a more balanced diet. Consider buying a few food flasks, they are great for porridge, pasta, casserole, and even curry. A good Thermos food flask will keep your lunch warm for up to 9 hours.
Still Think you Have What it Takes to be a Haulage Driver?
There are over 10,000 haulage companies in the UK, and HGV training is actually fairly affordable. A category C course takes just 5 days to complete and will allow you to drive rigid HGV vehicles. Category C drivers are always in high demand. If you are a respectful and easy going person with the ability to concentrate for long periods, this could be the ideal career choice for you!