First step to becoming a HGV driver

First step to becoming a HGV driver

Author
Discussion

rob0r

347 posts

114 months

Tuesday 4th December 2018
quotequote all
I've posted on here a few times about doing my Cat C and perhaps C+E later on, just for personal reasons as we have an Atego 7.5t with a recovery body going on the back of it for trackdays etc. I've done some training and I've now failed two tests - feeling pretty frustrated!

The first test I failed on not spotting a car tightly sneaking up the side of me in the left lane as I was about to go right on a roundabout. I thought I had checked my mirrors leading just before setting off but I missed the car now alongside me. As I left off the car had to wait and I gained a serious fault. Apart from that I had a pretty good drive so I wasn't too annoyed.

A week later (yesterday) I sat another test. They took me down a tight residential road that finishes with a T junction, it has very tight left turn and I misjudged and came out straight too far before turning full lock left. Even as slow as I could go I still clipped the kerb on the opposite side, and I had to reverse to make the turn. Aside from this I only had two minors, but I was done...

Yesterday I turned up at 8:15 at the test centre to find my 8:45 had been cancelled! I was pretty livid since I've had to book the time off work, and the retest / lorry time is not cheap. By the time I got back to the instructors depot it had been reinstated to 10:30am, which then meant more time off work and unhappy bosses... To then fail after all the kerfuffle was gutting.

I can now either try another retest before Xmas while it's still all fresh (each time is £400 a pop...) or go for more training. Each retest has 1hr 30 mins before the test to practice / train which is useful. I feel my general driving standards are good enough but I'm not really confident on the individual "harder" turns along the test routes, as yesterdays test has shown. I just wonder if I will have enough time to practice all the tight turns in before the retest.

Or I could opt to take some time out, wait until the New Year and then book extra training on a Saturday (four hours) for a retest first thing Monday (also with the 1hr 30 practice). This might be the most sensible option but costing is likely to be two retest fees, so I could just take a quick retest with little to lose and hope the practice time is enough, with the knowledge I could then take another one for the same amount of money as the extra training... If I pass the retest first time then it's £400 saved!

I'm not sure why I'm posting this up, but it's good to get my thoughts written out anyway!!

red_slr

8,936 posts

133 months

Tuesday 4th December 2018
quotequote all
Firstly, good on you for identifying the problems. Its a hard test. Pass rates are often <30%.

It sounds like you are improving but you need more time behind the wheel. Your instructor should only really be putting you through the test when you are ready, and I don't think you are.

If you are not confident with the turning circle / handling of the truck then I think you need more lessons.

After you pass, and you will, then after a few days driving you will wonder how you got it so wrong but the reality is a couple of dozen hours training is not a lot and that's why pass rates are so low IMHO.

I would book it on a lesson by lesson basis and it can only help with the basics just so long as you don't pick up any bad habits which is what your instructor should be looking out for.

Lastly go in with a clear head. Forget about everything else, work etc. Sounds like you have too much on your mind. Keeping your mind clear and not having to rush back to work will help, maybe book the full day off if you can. Relax and my instructors top tip is to eat and drink something before the test to keep you sharp. (just don't drink too much that you need the lav half way round!)

carmadgaz

3,145 posts

127 months

Tuesday 4th December 2018
quotequote all
I can only second what Red Sir said.

My instructor had me doing a circuit around two roundabouts for a good 10min as I kept trimming the inside kerb. It takes some getting used to (with every different shape of wagon it takes a little re-adjustment) but it will click. I'm still astounded I went from not driving owt bigger than a Citroen Luton to a license for a massive wagon in 4 days. Took several months post that to actually be considered a "driver" though laugh

You have a license, you CAN drive it's just a big van (I'm paraphrasing what my instructor said) . What wagon are you learning in?

Edit to add my last line is meant in a motivational way (as it was when instructor said it to me) . When I read it back it sounded a little off to me and that wasn't the intention thumbup


Edited by carmadgaz on Tuesday 4th December 22:24

carmadgaz

3,145 posts

127 months

Tuesday 4th December 2018
quotequote all
callmedave said:
I have also set myself up as a LTD company after being recommended to do so by other agency drivers, Im waiting on a business account and a UTR number but a few more days and i should be up and running. This will allow me to go and tout for work directly for haulage companies and cut out the agency's or to at least improve my tax rate so im left with more cash and cut out the umbrella company who seem to take a huge cut from my wages.

Overall, Still enjoying it, it has ups and downs like any other job would have but im still happy at the end of the shift.

smile
Glad to hear you're enjoying yourself boyo biggrin

Be VERY careful with the LTD company route. HMRC are getting a proper hard on over "Self employed" drivers that by their definition are "employed". Hasn't bitten anyone I know yet (though one mate has closed his LTD and found a full time employer) but it's going to cause some grief frown

GC8

18,349 posts

134 months

Wednesday 5th December 2018
quotequote all
IR35. Taking advice from ‘drivers’ was foolish.

rob0r

347 posts

114 months

Thursday 6th December 2018
quotequote all
Thanks Red_SLR and Carmadgaz! I appreciate the response and I don't disagree. I'm fine on dimension of the vehicle on roundabouts and general driving, it's just the specific "test" turns in the town centre (Ipswich) I'm not all that confident on and I definitely need more practice on them. It's basically tight t junctions and tight left / right traffic light turns which are the issue. On most of them I'm OK, but it's just a few that if I had to drive then I wouldn't be confident I'd know how to get around them.

The truck is a '58 Scania R340, which I'm told is 18t and 10m long.

I reckon I'll leave it until after Xmas now and book a Saturday four hour session with a sole purpose of doing all the tricky turns before taking another retest the Monday morning after...

GC8

18,349 posts

134 months

Thursday 6th December 2018
quotequote all
You should be practicing over the test routes?

chilistrucker

4,334 posts

95 months

Thursday 6th December 2018
quotequote all
rob0r said:
Thanks Red_SLR and Carmadgaz! I appreciate the response and I don't disagree. I'm fine on dimension of the vehicle on roundabouts and general driving, it's just the specific "test" turns in the town centre (Ipswich) I'm not all that confident on and I definitely need more practice on them. It's basically tight t junctions and tight left / right traffic light turns which are the issue. On most of them I'm OK, but it's just a few that if I had to drive then I wouldn't be confident I'd know how to get around them.

The truck is a '58 Scania R340, which I'm told is 18t and 10m long.

I reckon I'll leave it until after Xmas now and book a Saturday four hour session with a sole purpose of doing all the tricky turns before taking another retest the Monday morning after...


As frustrating as it is and I do feel your pain, you will get there in the end. It took me 3 goes back in the day but did finally nail it, 25 years in i'm still learning.


Good luck.

carmadgaz

3,145 posts

127 months

Thursday 6th December 2018
quotequote all
chilistrucker said:
rob0r said:
Thanks Red_SLR and Carmadgaz! I appreciate the response and I don't disagree. I'm fine on dimension of the vehicle on roundabouts and general driving, it's just the specific "test" turns in the town centre (Ipswich) I'm not all that confident on and I definitely need more practice on them. It's basically tight t junctions and tight left / right traffic light turns which are the issue. On most of them I'm OK, but it's just a few that if I had to drive then I wouldn't be confident I'd know how to get around them.

The truck is a '58 Scania R340, which I'm told is 18t and 10m long.

I reckon I'll leave it until after Xmas now and book a Saturday four hour session with a sole purpose of doing all the tricky turns before taking another retest the Monday morning after...


As frustrating as it is and I do feel your pain, you will get there in the end. It took me 3 goes back in the day but did finally nail it, 25 years in i'm still learning.


Good luck.
There is one turn in Hereford that to this day I try and avoid if I can as the angle was a nightmare in training and the old MAN I drove for work barely had the lock to clear it. Someone has taken the inside lampost out recently so looks like I'm not alone on the issue!

After 14 months on multidrop in allsorts of weird and wonderful parts of the countryside it never quite stops being a challenge but that's one of the things I rather enjoy (usually wink ) . Just take your time and use as much of the road as you need. If it means swinging right out to the otherside of the road so be it as long as it's safe thumbup

StevieSpain

71 posts

14 months

Wednesday 12th December 2018
quotequote all
I am thoroughly enjoying reading about other peoples journeys in this effin MAD world of driving for a living. Thanks to everyone who's chipping in smile

Me? Well, this is my 6th week at John Lewis driving a puddle jumper. Gotta say, we do NOT get employed for driving. I average about 3 hours driving a day, the rest is humping stuff around biggrin. I have only had to reset the driving time once, but have to reset the 6 hours working time at LEAST once a day, sometimes twice.
Washing machines up to the 5th floor? Yes Madam, no problem (Says the salesman!) Then we go and do it.
Yes, it's hard graft. SOme of those washing machines weigh upwards of 120Kg. Take it to the 3rd floor? Certainly Sir. biggrin

First 2 days, I swear, I thought it was a physical test! I dunno if I've posted this before (and I can't be arsed looking) But it was tough.
You get tagged along with a normal crew of two blokes, they teach you as you go along and do the days work.
After the two days grace....that's it.....off with your own driver/porter.

Some days are harder than others. Like I said, the first two days were feckin tough for me but they were just normal days, I know now.
Had some ball achingly tough days, really, but also some days where I've thought "Wheres the cameras"? its been so easy.

4 on 4 off, 11 hour shifts, 14.34ph, doesn't give you much time at home tbh. But if you're a single bloke with a C1? Jump in, JL is recruiting. I take home, on average about 520 a week. I can't spend it all, anyone want some?


GC8

18,349 posts

134 months

Wednesday 12th December 2018
quotequote all
Easy compared to M&S who do 4 days and whose drivers struggle to get one of them under 13hrs.

Much longer distances and higher standards too, although JLP actually care whereas M&S only portend to.

Overall, I think that £14-odd an hour to drive a puddle jumper is good. I’ve seen C rates at barely over NMW and C+E Ltd rates under a tenner!

There is always a Romanian who will do it: operators will pay as little as they can get away with and there’ll always be an agency that can provide someone at those rates.

StevieSpain

71 posts

14 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
Hiya GC8 and the rest of the troops. Sorry, been a while, but hey, all is good smile

So, end of week ten as an Agency driver at John Lewis and Partners.

Aight, I cannot deny that this is the hardest, most physically demanding, job I've ever done (and I've done some STUFF in the past)
Up at 08:30, shower/wash etc, on bus at 09:26.
Arrive at work, clock on at 10ish. Don't start work until 10:30 but that's the way pubic transport works.
Not allowed to prep anything, touch anything, do any pre start checks, until 10:30 start of shift, all to do with WTD. No probs, they have a subsidised canteen smile
10:30, Into HUGE warehouse....
go pick up the box/tray with all the stuff in, manifest, HHT, phone, hoses, clips, gloves, overshoes, snag a HUGE plastic bag for the waste polystyrene etc.
There is a big screen TV with an excel spreadsheet on the wall, this shows you you what bay, what team number, your partners name, how many drops, how many wet connections, TV installs, furniture assemblies, etc, oh and also if you have to go see Compliance if you've fked up on the tacho. No biggie, Compliance are actually really nice people who want to HELP.
walk to bay.
Organise HHT, Do daily check of veh, hand in forms, wait for permisson to eff off into the wild blue yonder that is London and the surrounding area.
HHT goes PING, permission granted. Ok we're off.
Get stopped at the main gate by some manager types, they want to see defect sheet, check tacho card is in, and that you are carrying CPC card. Not a usual occurrence, mebbe twice a week, but one I have no problem with.

First drop, a 75 inch TV. Ok, a two man lift, heavy buggers, these. . Arrive at the house, narrow street, no parking anywhere, it's a stop and drop.
Middle of the road, tail lift down, roller shutters up, TV out, roller shutters back down and tail lift up , walk to house, take TV in, get a sig, move on.
Next one, 4 mins away, washing machine in, one out, and a connect. Got parking this time, It's a flat! bd! 3 floors up!
Ok, get on with it, Shaun goes in to disconnect the old one, I prep the new one (Bring it to the tail lift) I then go up and see whappenin. Shaun says, yep no probs, I then go back down and open up the new one, take all the packaging off, and load it onto a trolley and head for the front door.
Walk upstairs, Shaun has the old one ready to lift, we pick it up and horse it downstairs.
We then horse the new one UPstairs. Shaun proceeds to connect it, test it, and get the signatures.
I put the old one on the truck, lash it down, collect all the polystyrene and cardboard, roller shutters down, tail lift up, wait for Shaun to hop in.

Next job, check manifest...3 minutes away....NOOOOO....MATTRESS!!! To a 3rd floor FLAT!!!!
Most people think that white goods are the worst thing to deliver. Let me address that right now...they ain't...it's mattresses!
And, in general, the more expensive they are? the heavier and more awkward they are.
This is just an average one, about 50 kilos, no probs. STill a bd to get up there and we're both sweating when we've done, but we've had worse, aLOT worse.
And so it goes, mebbe another 25 to do, or as little as 14.
An average day in multidrop world for john Lewis.

Before I started my first week with JL I was thinking "hmm, a 44 hour flat week, 11 hour shifts, 4 on 4 off, I can get at least a day of overtime here"
After my first week the Agency boss asked" Want to work Saturday"?
My answer was a resounding" GOD NO"!!! biggrin

Nowadays I do take the overtime, I'm working tomorrow as my 5th day so, you do get used to it. It's mostly in the mind, this job.
I've worked with big blokes who have quit after a few days, I've also worked with blokes smaller than me who put me to shame.
All in the mind.
just finished a effin hard job? Now forget it and move on to the next one.
Ok, off to bed, ready for me overtime day tomorro. hehehe, lovin it biggrin

G13NVL

502 posts

28 months

Wednesday 16th January
quotequote all
StevieSpain said:
Hiya GC8 and the rest of the troops. Sorry, been a while, but hey, all is good smile

So, end of week ten as an Agency driver at John Lewis and Partners.

Aight, I cannot deny that this is the hardest, most physically demanding, job I've ever done (and I've done some STUFF in the past)
Up at 08:30, shower/wash etc, on bus at 09:26.
Arrive at work, clock on at 10ish. Don't start work until 10:30 but that's the way pubic transport works.
Not allowed to prep anything, touch anything, do any pre start checks, until 10:30 start of shift, all to do with WTD. No probs, they have a subsidised canteen smile
10:30, Into HUGE warehouse....
go pick up the box/tray with all the stuff in, manifest, HHT, phone, hoses, clips, gloves, overshoes, snag a HUGE plastic bag for the waste polystyrene etc.
There is a big screen TV with an excel spreadsheet on the wall, this shows you you what bay, what team number, your partners name, how many drops, how many wet connections, TV installs, furniture assemblies, etc, oh and also if you have to go see Compliance if you've fked up on the tacho. No biggie, Compliance are actually really nice people who want to HELP.
walk to bay.
Organise HHT, Do daily check of veh, hand in forms, wait for permisson to eff off into the wild blue yonder that is London and the surrounding area.
HHT goes PING, permission granted. Ok we're off.
Get stopped at the main gate by some manager types, they want to see defect sheet, check tacho card is in, and that you are carrying CPC card. Not a usual occurrence, mebbe twice a week, but one I have no problem with.

First drop, a 75 inch TV. Ok, a two man lift, heavy buggers, these. . Arrive at the house, narrow street, no parking anywhere, it's a stop and drop.
Middle of the road, tail lift down, roller shutters up, TV out, roller shutters back down and tail lift up , walk to house, take TV in, get a sig, move on.
Next one, 4 mins away, washing machine in, one out, and a connect. Got parking this time, It's a flat! bd! 3 floors up!
Ok, get on with it, Shaun goes in to disconnect the old one, I prep the new one (Bring it to the tail lift) I then go up and see whappenin. Shaun says, yep no probs, I then go back down and open up the new one, take all the packaging off, and load it onto a trolley and head for the front door.
Walk upstairs, Shaun has the old one ready to lift, we pick it up and horse it downstairs.
We then horse the new one UPstairs. Shaun proceeds to connect it, test it, and get the signatures.
I put the old one on the truck, lash it down, collect all the polystyrene and cardboard, roller shutters down, tail lift up, wait for Shaun to hop in.

Next job, check manifest...3 minutes away....NOOOOO....MATTRESS!!! To a 3rd floor FLAT!!!!
Most people think that white goods are the worst thing to deliver. Let me address that right now...they ain't...it's mattresses!
And, in general, the more expensive they are? the heavier and more awkward they are.
This is just an average one, about 50 kilos, no probs. STill a bd to get up there and we're both sweating when we've done, but we've had worse, aLOT worse.
And so it goes, mebbe another 25 to do, or as little as 14.
An average day in multidrop world for john Lewis.

Before I started my first week with JL I was thinking "hmm, a 44 hour flat week, 11 hour shifts, 4 on 4 off, I can get at least a day of overtime here"
After my first week the Agency boss asked" Want to work Saturday"?
My answer was a resounding" GOD NO"!!! biggrin

Nowadays I do take the overtime, I'm working tomorrow as my 5th day so, you do get used to it. It's mostly in the mind, this job.
I've worked with big blokes who have quit after a few days, I've also worked with blokes smaller than me who put me to shame.
All in the mind.
just finished a effin hard job? Now forget it and move on to the next one.
Ok, off to bed, ready for me overtime day tomorro. hehehe, lovin it biggrin
If you can get a transfer onto the Waitrose side driving class 1 delievering to stores (which I currently do and is usually 1 drop a day) it’s probably the easiest job iv ever had. No rush anywhere all drivers are always parked up after drops to drag their hours out!

Charlie1986

1,599 posts

79 months

Wednesday 16th January
quotequote all
GUYS,

So I have a full HGV licence from the military and I’m looking at getting in the driving route. I have a digi tachometer card and need to complete my Dcpc.

Where is best to start? Some companies cry for ex military but a few people have advised the agency route?

Al

red_slr

8,936 posts

133 months

Wednesday 16th January
quotequote all
The main thing you need is experience so try and find somewhere that will take you on even if the pay is maybe slightly lower than what you might expect as that's going to be your main hurdle. Agency is all well and good but they tend to throw you in at the deep end and personally I think thats a bad idea.

Once you have 12-24 months under your belt a lot more options will open up.

Also consider doing ADR or Hiab. Skip loaders are also in demand. A lot of the training is actually quite cheap. Another is MEWP. Can be interesting work sometimes.

DCPC will cost you about £300-£350. We are closing in on the end of the first 5 year period so a lot of people are taking their DCPC refresher over the next 6 months to make sure you book something sooner rather than later. The training company we use are operating 7 days a week at the moment to meet demand.

Like I said though, try and get 12 months under your belt first and figure out what you like doing as one driving job can be very different to another.

Charlie1986

1,599 posts

79 months

Thursday 17th January
quotequote all
red_slr said:
The main thing you need is experience so try and find somewhere that will take you on even if the pay is maybe slightly lower than what you might expect as that's going to be your main hurdle. Agency is all well and good but they tend to throw you in at the deep end and personally I think thats a bad idea.

Once you have 12-24 months under your belt a lot more options will open up.

Also consider doing ADR or Hiab. Skip loaders are also in demand. A lot of the training is actually quite cheap. Another is MEWP. Can be interesting work sometimes.

DCPC will cost you about £300-£350. We are closing in on the end of the first 5 year period so a lot of people are taking their DCPC refresher over the next 6 months to make sure you book something sooner rather than later. The training company we use are operating 7 days a week at the moment to meet demand.

Like I said though, try and get 12 months under your belt first and figure out what you like doing as one driving job can be very different to another.
Thanks Red SLR

Well the current role im in now in Warehouse Managment i have to shunt vehicles each morning and its a mixture of Class 1 and 2.

I have ADR,Moffet and Haib all ready so its just the CPC. I have been offered a role doing trunk work out of Gatwick doing class 1 for 32k where locally to me class 2 is currently 28k.

So for me its just on the road experience

red_slr

8,936 posts

133 months

Thursday 17th January
quotequote all
Sounds reasonable. Moffett is hard to find, we run a moffett wagon and are always looking for drivers but we are north of the wall.
I would just say take it easy for the first couple of weeks and look out for low bridges! If you are trunking it will probably be just major roads anyway.


GC8

18,349 posts

134 months

Thursday 17th January
quotequote all
Re Moffet, there are over fifty types of FLT licence!

Its Just Adz

9,372 posts

153 months

Tuesday 5th March
quotequote all
Still absolutely loving transporters, so glad I did hgv licence, wish I'd done it years ago.


GC8

18,349 posts

134 months

Wednesday 6th March
quotequote all
How does it pay?