In recent years the demand for HGV and lorry drivers has continued to increase with jobs within the sector becoming highly lucrative for some. There are of course many reasons for this surge in popularity, though one of the biggest is the internet sensation of online shopping.
Whatever the reasons are, the fact is that the nation still has fewer HGV drivers than we need and jobs within the field are highly paid and fairly common. All you need to cash in on this HGV surge is, of course, a licence. As you might expect the HGV licence is a touch different to the standard car test. So, how is the test different and how can you pass it?
There are of course many factors that make driving an HGV and passing the test far more challenging than a car test. One of those reasons is the sheer size of a lorry and how much that challenges the handling characteristics. A lorry is much more difficult to turn and for many, the process of getting accustomed to the large trailer is the hardest part.
Of course, there is also the drastically reduced visibility that HGV drivers have compared with standard cars or vans. We’re sure you’ve all heard of the infamous blind spots when driving. Well in HGV’s these blind spots are much worse which makes navigating in them a far more challenging task.
One of the other key aspects of driving a lorry is safety. Of course, these vehicles are far heavier and can course a good deal more damage if something does go wrong. This means that drivers must have full control of their vehicles and know what to do if something does go wrong.
For example, it is still fairly common to experience a breakdown of some kind in your truck driving career. Most drivers will inevitably spend most of their time on the motorway and breakdowns on these roads can be highly dangerous and extremely stressful. Therefore modern HGV drivers have to have the capabilities to deal with these kinds of situations safely and within the parameters of the law and highway code.
The HGV test
The driving test for HGV follows a similar structure to the standard car test. There is a theory section and a practical section. These two separate aspects of the test are designed to teach and prepare the driver for the two most important areas of driving a large vehicle.
The theory test
The theory section is of course built to test the driver on the safety regulations for driving a vehicle and the steps they should take in the event of an accident or incident. For example, a driver must know the standard safety regulations for an HGV such as tire tread depth or the maximum weight of the trailer. The second aspect of the test is the practical test which is designed to test the driver on their ability behind the wheel and their competence in driving a large vehicle. So, what is the theory test like and what should I expect from the practical test?
The first part of the test is the theory section. As previously mentioned this part of the training will look to test your knowledge of the highway code and laws and regulations of driving a HGV in the UK. However, the theory test will also look to assess your skills in picking out hazards and knowing what to do if a hazard occurs. This section is called the hazard perception test.
The first part of the theory test however is just a simple exam. There are a total of 100 multiple-choice questions designed to challenge the pupil. Any aspiring HGV driver who passes this first part of the test is usually deemed knowledgeable enough to take their practicality and start their journey on the roads.
The hazard perception which is the second half of the theory test works in a slightly different and more unconventional format than the former. Drivers will be shown 19 videos of real-life driving scenarios and must look out for 20 hazards. When a candidate sees a hazard they can click on the screen with the mouse which will notify the system that there is a believed hazard at that time.
This section is very similar to the test you might remember from your driving theory exam however it is slightly different. The most prominent difference between the two is HGV drivers must then answer a 100-question multiple-choice exam about the hazards they have just seen after the video test. This section is designed to further the knowledge of the driver and helps the examiners determine how competent and knowledgeable the candidate is.
The practical exam
After a candidate has completed the theory test they must then graduate to the more advanced practical exam. This section once again is broken down into two parts to further strengthen a driver’s capability and knowledge. There is the driving skills section and the practical demonstration.
The first half of the practical test is the driving skills test. This section requires the drivers to drive a HGV under supervision from an examiner. The examiner will then give the driver a series of instructions which are designed to test their knowledge and perhaps more importantly their competence in manoeuvring a large vehicle on the roads.
The test should encompass everything from low-speed parking and driving, to emergency braking and cornering. Many candidates see this section as the hardest of all four aspects of the test as there is a great deal of pressure. This explains why so many drivers choose to have many hours of tuition with licensed instructors before taking the practical test.
The fourth and final section of the HGV drivers test is the practical demonstration. This is the part of the exam where drivers must explain and demonstrate to the examiner how an HGV works and the regulations that are in place for the vehicle. The sections within this test will include vehicle loading, cargo securement, walk-around safety tests, illegal immigration, and finally the emergency situation assessment. In total, a candidate will have to get 80 of the 100 questions in this section correct to pass. So, once you’ve passed all of these tests you’re ready to hit the road, but how do you pass these tests and what are the best preparation methods?
First things first a HGV driver needs to practice their skills before taking any of the four tests. In fact, a driver should aim to reach well over 15 hours of HGV driving before they take the test and must also know the ins and outs of their truck’s mechanics. Real-world practice really is one of the best ways in which a driver can prepare for their exams.
Of course, when a driver is practising out on the roads they must also have a supervised instructor with them to ensure they are safe and also keeping those around them safe. There is another benefit of having an instructor next to you when you train. A trained instructor can give some of the vital training you’ll need to pass the exams and there’s no better way to learn than from a seasoned professional.
Calmness under pressure
Another vital attribute to attain before taking your HGV test is the ability to stay calm under pressure. The exams can often be extremely stressful and when most people experience stress they lose their concentration. In a test environment, this can be extremely frustrating and damaging to your results. So, practice mindfulness techniques perhaps or some tried and tested methods to keep you calm.
Keep your truck serviced
Another vital aspect to consider when preparing to take the HGV test is keeping your truck serviced. It is highly likely that either you or one of your staff members will use your truck to train and perhaps even take the test in. So, you must make sure the vehicle is in pristine driving condition. Some key work you should consider having done to your HGV in preparation for this is a truck diagnostic or lorry test. So, you can determine whether your vehicle is safe to practice in.
If you’re planning to take an HGV test or you’re preparing for one of your staff to take one then you’ll probably need a vehicle testing facility to run a truck diagnostic system. If this is the case then look no further than Transcare. Contact our friendly staff today and they’ll help guide you every step of the way.